MacDougall's Russian Art Auctions 25-27 November 2019

25 November 2019

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

Peach Trees in Blossom

243. SARYAN, MARTIROS (1880–1972)

Peach Trees in Blossom, signed and dated 1955, also further signed in Armenian and Russian, titled in Russian, numbered "253" and dated twice on the reverse.

Oil on canvas, 74 by 100.5 cm.
100,000–130,000 GBP

Provenance:Private collection, France.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.

Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert N. Shishkina.

Literature: R. Drampyan, Saryan, Moscow, Iskusstvo, 1964, p. 110, listed under the works from 1955.

In the mid-1950s, this topic took on a new resonance for the artist. After surviving a charge of formalism, the most serious charge for an artist in those years, lodged against him (alongside Dmitry Shostakovich, Sergei Prokofiev and Aram Khachaturian) in 1948, Saryan abandoned easel painting for several years to focus on book illustrations and theatre work. When Nikita Khrushchev came to power, the situation in the art field altered a great deal as more creative freedom was granted to the artists. Saryan too began to breathe more freely. He started to paint again and turned to nature, which he found in the corners of his beloved garden, familiar from his earlier compositions of 1945 and 1947 entitled Spring in My Garden.

Despite its large size, the composition Peach Trees in Blossom retains all the advantages of a freshly-painted étude. The artist paints his picture en plein air, observing the nature and recreating on canvas a balance of colours that keeps rapidly changing through the effect of light. Aiming to convey the actual density and texture of the earth, the trees growing from it and the whitish-pink petals covering their crowns, he adopts a quick, expressive way of painting in oils. The artist applies the paint on to the canvas with separate long or dot-like brushstrokes of pure colour, creating a vibrant, flowering mass that incorporates many chromatic shades.

Being one of Konstantin Korovin’s pupils, Saryan largely follows the precepts of his celebrated teacher when depicting his own “arboreal nature”. Saryan’s landscape is permeated with air, and showcases his ability to masterfully balance his colours. The effect is that of a colouristic harmony, despite the striking combination of the pink and white masses of blossoming peach trees, the austere blue of the cold sky and the dark shades of the earth and the house behind the tree trunks.

The painting Peach Trees in Blossom is an outstanding example of Saryan’s mature work, fit to decorate a museum collection, or indeed, any private collection.

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.