28 November 2018
Rain in Early May, signed and dated 1940.
Oil on canvas, 94.5 by 193 cm.
Provenance: Private collection, USA.
Private collection, UK.
Literature: R. Drampyan, Saryan, Moscow, Iskusstvo, 1964, p. 80, illustrated in black and white with incorrect date.
Related Literature: For similar works, see A. Kamensky, Martiros Sarian. Zhivopis, akvareli, risunki, illustrazii. Teatralno-dekorazionnoe iskusstvo, Leningrad, Aurora, 1987, pl. 177, illustrated.
Sh. Khachatryan (ed.), Sarian 1880–1972, Samara, Agni, 2003, pp. 268 and 304.
Rain in Early May is one of a few large works that Martiros Saryan painted in the first half of the 1940s. It stands out sharply from the other landscapes of this period which were generally smaller in size studies. The motif of the overcast day, which is rare in the artist’s oeuvre, contrasts with the theme of fruit trees in blossom that predominates in the canvasses of that period. But the cheerfulness of nature being reborn can be seen in the fresh greenness of the rain-washed foliage of the trees and the brown moisture-rich earth.
The carefully delineated and harmonious compositional system of this landscape was to become the basis for subsequent works of the 1940s devoted to Armenia’s bountiful gardens. The view from above allows the artist to embrace immense open spaces: the cultivated garden and the farm buildings beyond it, where life flows on gently and evenly, and finally — a line of little houses, disappearing at the far end of the valley, that almost merge into the blue of the sky. Despite the large size of the composition, the integrity of perception is achieved through the unity of space full of air and colour. The artist brilliantly transfers to canvas the various shades of young foliage that has just been washed by rain, the bluish- brown earth, only occasionally covered by greenery, the coppice-strewn valley merging smoothly into the distant unbounded space. This motif of unstoppable movement, the boundary of which is only the high limitless Armenian sky, runs through the whole of Saryan’s landscape cycle from the 1940s. The epic inherent of the artist’s early works acquires a particular fullness of expression in the work Rain in Early May. The powerful movement into the depth of the pictorial space is combined in the canvas with calm and deep reflection, with a feeling of eternal rhythm of life that will go on forever.
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