Catalogue: Important Russian Art Auction

15 October 2020

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

Café in Vichy N°3

27. KOROVIN, KONSTANTIN (1861–1939)

Café in Vichy N°3, signed, further titled on the stretcher.

Oil on canvas, 61 by 50 cm.
150,000–200,000 GBP

Provenance: Private collection, Europe.

Café in Vichy N°3 is a fine example of Konstantin Korovin’s French night scenes. The artist is depicting a favourite spot of his, right in the heart of the spa town of Vichy – the crowded Grand Café de France, full of colourful lights, on the corner of Rue de Nîmes – and the arch above the entrance to the famous Elysée Palace music hall, where performances resounded throughout the 1910s and 1920s.

Fascinated by the French resort’s nightlife, Korovin brilliantly conveys the dazzlingly vivid, bohemian atmosphere of the town’s lively evenings. He is charmed by the glitter of the shop windows, the magical sight of the electric lighting against the background of a dark, only slightly moonlit sky, and the animation of the smartly dressed clientèle sitting at the tables or strolling along the road – all of which is conveyed by the special vibrancy of his brushstrokes. The artist employs the technique of making short, quick movements with the brush, while the bright, juxtaposed colours create an optically mixed effect and give rise to the illusion of actual movement in a street that flickers in the artificial light. To the same end, Korovin also opts for the characteristic view from above – a compositional technique that had made Parisian scenes renowned ever since the times of Monet and Pissarro.

Seen from a window or balcony on one of the upper floors of a building opposite, this fleeting detail of the boulevard or street conveys the throb of life, the electrifying and exciting sense of a “celebration that is always with you”, which Alexander Benois regarded as the hallmark of Korovin’s best nocturnes.

Vichy, Rue de Nîmes
Vichy, Music Hall

Café in Vichy N°3
Café in Vichy N°3
Café in Vichy N°3

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.