Catalogue: Important Russian Art Auction

15 October 2020

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

Seated Nude

35. KUPRIN, ALEXANDER (1880–1960)

Seated Nude, signed, also further signed, titled in Cyrillic and dated 1910 on the reverse.

Oil on canvas, 105 by 69 cm.
60,000–90,000 GBP

Provenance: Collection of T. Anisimova-Kuprina, the artist’s widow.
Acquired from the above by V. Shumskii.
Private collection, Europe.

Exhibited: Russkie khudozhniki v obiedinenii “Bubnovyi valet”: mezhdu Sezannom i avangardom, Monaco, 11 March–12 April 2004.
“Bubnovyi valet” v russkom avangarde, State Russian Museum, St Petersburg, 9 July–9 August 2004.
Persona. Image. Time. Human Representation in Art: from Modernism to the Present-Day, Cultural Foundation Ekaterina, Moscow, 17 September–13 December 2009.

Literature: Exhibition catalogue, E. Petrova, L. Iovleva, A. Morozov (eds), “Bubnovyi valet” v russkom avangarde, St Petersburg, Palace Editions, 2004, p. 226, illustrated and listed.
Exhibition catalogue, Persona. Image. Time. Human Representation in Art: from Modernism to the Present-day, Moscow, Cultural Foundation Ekaterina, 2009, p. 22, illustrated.

Alexander Kuprin’s Seated Nude, painted at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in 1910, is one of the iconic works of its time. Kuprin, who until then had been striving to measure up to the best pictures by Valentin Serov and Konstantin Korovin, discovered new ideals and perspectives. He studied the collections of Sergei Shchukin and Ivan Morozov and often skipped classes at the School to spend whole days at the Golden Fleece exhibitions. Familiarity with paintings by the French Impressionists, Post-Impressionists and Cubists, and his friendship with Mikhail Larionov, completely altered his artistic objectives and attitude towards creative work.

Looking back, the artist reverently recalled those days and his first independent steps in art: “The old gods I was supposed to worship had already been toppled from their pedestals. And now there were new ones... I felt with my whole being that our old men (the Itinerants) were a thing of the past. A different time has come, time to follow the French... I made sketches of nudes, male and female, in clear imitation of Cézanne, Van Gogh, Manet, Derain and others (quoted from: K. Kravchenko, A.V. Kuprin, Moscow, Sovetskii khudozhnik, 1973, p. 57).

Seated Nude is one of Kuprin’s first such experiments. It still lacks a clearly delineated “artistic manifesto”, while the sitter can be recognised as one of the School’s professional models who frequently featured in works of Kuprin and his classmates. However, overall the picture already exhibits a decisiveness in tackling form, as well as a fluent and confident style of painting, devoid of a beginner’s assiduousness; an ease with handling colour (which, it has to be said, still has a way to go to reach Kuprin’s radicalism of the 1910s) and the drive and aspiration of youth.

The present lot as illustrated in the 2004 publication
The present lot as illustrated in the 2009 exhibition catalogue

Seated Nude
Seated Nude

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.