MacDougall Auctions 12-18 June 2008

12 June 2008

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

On the Terrace (Gadanie na Rozakh)

* 16. KOTARBINSKY, VASILY 1849-1921

On the Terrace (Gadanie na Rozakh) signed.

Oil on canvas, 69 by 136 cm.

Authenticity certificate from the State Grabar Institute, expert A. Kiseleva.
Authenticity has been confirmed by Vladimir Petrov.

Another version of this work is in the collection of the Kirovograd Regional Museum.

The composition offered for auction, On the Terrace (Gadanie na Rozakh) is a genre painting, reminiscent of a stage set, in a style popular during Kotarbinsky’s lifetime. Painted by a fine master of composition and light, it is his version of the picture On the Terrace from the collection of the Kirovograd Regional Museum. It combines realistic architecture and landscape with a salon subject and a light touch of mysticism. The technique, and Kotarbinsky’s famously transparent colour palette that he varied slightly from canvas to canvas, enable us to date the painting to the early 20th century, at a time when the artist’s fame and talent were at their peak.

Wilhelm (Vasily) Alexandrovich Kotarbinsky (1849–1921) studied at the Warsaw Gymnasium between 1867–1871, whilst also attending the Warsaw Society of Fine Arts. In 1868 he left for Rome, where he studied under Podesti at the Accademia di San Luca from 1872–1875. He then entered the Imperial Academy of Arts where in 1881 he was awarded second gold medal for his piece Vulcan Chaining Prometheus to a Cliff in the Caucasus.

A year later he was awarded “Class Artist of the First Order” for his work Ailing Prince Pozharsky Receiving the Muscovite Ambassadors. From then on his work came to symbolise the salon interpretation of historical, mythological and biblical subjects. On leaving the Academy, Kotarbinsky again returned to the Eternal City, which provided him with abundant material for the creation of mythological compositions in an ancient setting.

In 1887, at the invitation of the artist Svedomsky, Kotarbinsky travelled to Kiev to assist in painting Saint Vladimir’s Cathedral (1887–1895). He also executed monumental paintings in private houses, including commissions for Tereshchenko and Khanenko, as well as compositions on religious subjects for Catholic churches in Byelorussia.

In 1900 he took part in an exhibition at the Academy of Arts, where his many sepia drawings (there were approximately 150 of them) and large oil canvases were a huge success. Tretyakov wanted to acquire The Widow’s Mite for his gallery, but the purchase did not go ahead as Tretyakov demanded Kotarbinsky change his usual Latin signature for Cyrillic, which Kotarbinsky refused to do. Tretyakov’s wife greatly regretted the failed purchase and bought a sketch of the same picture, which after her death was bequeathed to the gallery. In 1905 Kotarbinsky became an academician and toward the end of his career he became fascinated by symbolism and painted mystical symbolic and allegorical images.

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.