15 October 2020
Okhotino, signed and dated 1917.
Oil on canvas, 67 by 88.5 cm.
Provenance: Private collection, Europe.
The landscape was painted on Korovin’s Okhotino estate near the River Nerl in Vladimir Province, where, as the 19th century gave way to the 20th, he had a house built for himself. The artist would take every opportunity to go there, at any season, to enjoy rural life – hunting, fishing and the modest charm of plein air painting in the Central Russian countryside.
Like Serov, Korovin was especially fond of painting farm horses harnessed to a cart or sleigh and going about their daily work. Such landscapes are usually simple and uncomplicated in content. Here, the artist is watching peasants gathering firewood. But since the painting is executed in an étude style, he avoids any of the specific details of everyday life. Korovin’s main objective is to preserve the freshness of the way he sees outdoor life, to capture its ever-changing wealth of colour and to convey the movement of the air, the light and the clouds – everything, in fact, that makes up the quintessential nature of a summer’s day. When contemplating this small canvas, one delights in the consummate artistry, the beauty of the sparse treatment, the energy of the brush movements, and the circular motion of the short brushstrokes of various colours, depicting the foliage, the earth and the sky, that are applied in parallel bands and draw the eye into the endless, impetuous movement.
To the right and left of the brightest group in the centre – the horse’s body gleaming in the sunshine, the pile of firewood under the tree and the peasant woman standing beside it – bold brushstrokes convey details that are important for the colour composition – the grass, the wheels of the cart, and the sawn and heaped-up tree trunks, on which another female figure is sitting. Clearly, though, painting itself is far more important to the artist than the subject he is depicting. Furthermore, it is the artistic immediacy encompassing and absorbing the real world that is the objective he attained and the meaning behind Korovin’s mature works, of which the Okhotino landscape presented for auction may be regarded as a typical example.
Konstantin Korovin, Okhotino. Autumn Landscape, 1913, Ekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts, Ekaterinburg.
Konstantin Korovin, Summer Landscape. Okhotino, 1921, Surgut Art Museum.
Notes on symbols:
* Indicates 5% Import Duty Charge applies.
Ω Indicates 20% Import Duty Charge applies.
§ Indicates Artist's Resale Right applies.
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