MacDougall's Russian Art Auctions 25-27 November 2019

25 November 2019

Artist Index / Full Catalogue


223. LEVITAN, ISAAK (1860–1900)

Autumn, signed.

Pastel and charcoal on paper, laid on cardboard, 52.5 by 75 cm.
100,000–200,000 GBP

Executed in the first half of the 1890s.

Provenance: Collection of Ivan Tarasov, a prominent art collector, Moscow, c. 1944 (inscription on the reverse).
Private collection, UK.

Authenticity certificate from the expert V. Petrov.
Authenticity has also been confirmed by the expert L. Torstensen.

Exhibited: Possibly, XIII periodicheskaia vystavka kartin Moskovskogo obshchestva liubitelei khudozhestv, Imperial Russian History Museum, Moscow, 1893.
Possibly, XXIII peredvizhnaia vystavka Tovarishchestva peredvizhnykh khudozhestvennykh vystavok, School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, Moscow, 3 April–7 May 1895.

Literature: Possibly, exhibition catalogue, XIII periodicheskaia vystavka kartin Moskovskago obshchestva liubitelei khudozhestv, Moscow, 1893, No. 3, listed as Osen (Pastel).
Possibly, exhibition catalogue, XXIII peredvizhnaia vystavka Tovarishchestva peredvizhnykh khudozhestvennykh vystavok, Moscow, 1895, No. 103, listed as Osen. Pastel.
Possibly, G. Romanov, Tovarishchestvo peredvizhnykh khudozhestvennykh vystavok. 1871–1923 g.g. Entsiklopediia, St Petersburg, Sankt-Peterburg Orkestr, 2003, p. 172, No. 8–10, listed as Osen. Pastel.

Isaac Levitan, the most renowned of Russian landscape artists, is represented in this catalogue by the elegiac pastel work, Autumn. Although Levitan is known primarily as a painter, the depth of his penetration into the life of nature and ability to capture its subtle changes are most apparent in his works on paper.

Levitan started to use pastels in the early 1890s, producing a whole series of striking and expressive works in the medium during the last decade of his life. As the art historian Alexei Fedorov-Davydov wrote in his monograph on Levitan: “The freedom and lightness of the artist’s figurative techniques are particularly apparent in the crayon strokes of these pictures... the intimate quality of pastel, its midway position between oil, on the one hand, and coloured drawing or watercolour, on the other hand, give us a clear perception of the artist at work, as if the act of creation was unfolding before our eyes. We feel Levitan’s artistic individuality with a special immediacy, as if witnessing the movement of his hand.”

The airiness and softness of pastel enable the artist to convey the subtlest nuances of colour and to combine a generalised depiction of main masses with the expressiveness of certain details. The present lot demonstrates Levitan’s supreme mastery in a medium that was unusual for him. The picture captures the indefinable beauty and transient quality of Russian autumn.

Notes on symbols:
* Indicates 5% Import Duty Charge applies.
Ω Indicates 20% Import Duty Charge applies.
§ Indicates Artist's Resale Right applies.
† Indicates Standard VAT scheme applies, and the rate of 20% VAT will be charged on both hammer price and premium.