28 November 2008
View of Gurzuf, Crimea signed and dated 1901
Oil on canvas, 98 by 68 cm.
Provenance: Private collection, Russia.
Private collecton, USA.
Authenticity has been confirmed by Vladimir Petrov.
Exhibited: Exhibition of St. Petersburg Union of Artists, St. Petersburg, 1904.
Literature: Journal Niva, St. Petersburg, 1904, N17, illustrated.
Journal Rodina, 1904, N 35, illustrated.
Related literature: For similar works see G. Romanov and A. Muratov, Artists of the Russian Salon (1850-1917), Zolotoi Vek, St. Petersburg 2004, p. 308.
A Russian landscape painter and a representative of the academic salon trend in Russian landscape painting at the turn of the century, Kondratenko was renowned for his Crimean landscapes. After graduating from M. K. Klodt’s class in the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts with a small gold medal and the title of First Class Artist Grade 2 awarded to him for his work Night in Bakhchisarai, Kondratenko retained a love for the lush beauty of southern Russian nature throughout his life. Every year he would head off to the Crimea or the Caucasus seeking new inspiration, and would invariably return weighed down with several dozen first class romanticised views. His numerous “exotic” southern landscapes, which were painted in the traditions of the seaside resort compositions of L. O. Premazzi, with the accompanying lighting effects, moonlit nights and elegant figures, enjoyed enormous success among the fashionable public of the St. Petersburg salons during the 1880s and 1890s. For example, Grand Prince Mikhail Nikolaevich purchased from the artist View Of Kazbek and Stolovaya Mountain from the Environs of Vladikavkaz,and Baron P. Derviz purchased The Ruins of an Ancient Fortress Close to Balaclava; and the Crimean landscapes Sevastopol by Moonlight (1882), Sudak Bay by Evening (1884) and Bakhchisarai by Night came to be regarded as genuine masterpieces even during his lifetime.
An example of Kondratenko’s popular Crimean canvases which were so highly prized by his contemporaries is the work presented here for auction, View of Gurzuf, Crimea. Its composition incorporates the artist’s favoured motif of a rocky seashore over which is diffused a hazy pre-sunset light. The representation of such light effects was always Kondratenko’s forte.
The artist’s authority was so great that when in the 1880s he again went to the Crimea to make some sketch studies and came across a beggar woman in Sevastopol who turned out to be a former Sister of Mercy he was able to solicit the assistance of his influential acquaintances in the capital who were admirers of his work, and quickly set up the “St. Petersburg Guardianship Committee of the Sisters of the Red Cross” under the patronage of the granddaughter of Emperor Nicholas I, Princess Yevgeniya Maksimilianovna Oldenburgskaya.
Notes on symbols:
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§ Indicates Artist's Resale Right applies.
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