28 Nov 2018
Harlequinade, Michel and Vera Fokine in the Ballet “Karnaval”, signed and dated 1922, also further signed three times, once with initials, inscribed in Cyrillic with the artist’s address and “Prosba vstavit pod steklo/i v ramu bolshoi bronzy.”, titled and variously numbered on the reverse.
Pencil, gouache and tempera on paper, laid on cardboard, 85 by 64 cm.
Provenance: Private collection, UK.
Exhibited: The Russian Art Exhibition, Grand Central Palace, New York, 1924.
23rd Annual International Exhibition of Paintings, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, 24 April–15 June 1924 (label on the reverse).
Literature: I. Grabar, C. Brinton, The Russian Art Exhibition, Grand Central Palace, New York, 1924, No. 44, listed.
Exhibition catalogue, 23rd Annual International Exhibition of Paintings, Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institute, 1924, listed.
Related literature: For similar work, see Grafika Russkikh Khudozhnikov ot A do Ya, Moscow, Slovo, 2002, p. 30.
The present work is a version of the 1915 Mikhail Bobyshov painting Harlequinade, currently in the collection of the State Russian Museum, inspired by the one-act Diaghilev ballet Karnaval to the music of Robert Schumann, which was staged at the Mariinsky Theatre in 1910.
The offered lot was painted by the artist in 1922, specially for the exhibition of Russian art at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh. Like most of Bobyshov’s works from the late 1910s and early 1920s, the picture combines the intense sensitivity of the late Mir Iskusstva (World of Art) style with the artist’s unique mosaic technique, which is wonderfully suited to the theme. Despite the generality of the details, the silks and chiffons of the costumes are convincing and the slightly off-centre composition gives the work a graceful dynamism and musicality.
Notes on symbols:
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