15 October 2020
Pine Forest, signed and dated 1892.
Oil on canvas, 84 by 109.5 cm.
Provenance: Private collection, Europe.
Thence by descent.
Private collection, USA.
Pine Forest, a picture by Ivan Shishkin, the most famous and revered master of the Russian landscape, was based on his plein air work in Merreküll (now Meriküla, Estonia) and painted in 1892. The picturesque scenery of that small resort town on the gently sloping shore of the Gulf of Finland, with its sandy beaches, pine forest and magnificent park, attracted many Russian artists and writers at the turn of the 20th century. Shishkin too came repeatedly to the Narva coast during the summer months, seeking inspiration and new artistic images in the northern pine groves that were so dear to him.
As is nearly always the case with Shishkin, the composition presented for auction stems from his outdoor observation of a quite specific natural scene. A sunlit forest glade with an overgrown woodland pond, fallen trees and a moss-covered tree stump in the foreground is painted with the deep knowledge of plant life that the artist amassed over a career spanning almost half a century. However, the specific focus of the image is undoubtedly combined in the finished work with broad generalisation. By cutting off the tops of the tree trunks with the frame (a technique that Shishkin used repeatedly), the artist reinforces the impression of the sheer size of the trees, which seem to run out of space on the canvas. The pine trees towering skywards, among which a patch of serene blue sky peeps through, the light pervading the entire pictorial space, and the clear, luminous colours create the sensation of a warm, sun-baked summer’s day.
Quite large in size and judicious in composition, the picture features great poetic expressiveness, making this an excellent example of a lyrical landscape a work that is typical of the Merrekül series.
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.