28 November 2008
View of Kiev from the Muraviev Gardens signed and dated 1871
Oil on canvas, 80 by 142 cm.
Provenance: Originally from the collection of the Russian patron of the arts, Ivan Lesnikov, St. Petersburg,1871-1872.
Private collection, Europe.
Authenticity has been confirmed by Vladimir Petrov.
Authenticity certificate from the State Institute of Grabar, experts A. Kiseleva and T. Goryacheva.
Exhibited: 1st Exhibition of the Itinerants, St. Petersburg-Moscow-Kiev-Kharkov, 1871-1872, plate 1-35.
Literature: Index of the 1st Exhibition of the Itinerants, St. Petersburg, 1871, p. 3, No. 23.
G. Romanov, Encyclopedia of the Itinerants' Exhibitions 1871-1923, St. Petersburg, 2003, p. 8, 1-35.
View of Kiev from the Muraviev Gardens presented here for the auction is one of the finest works ever painted by Klodt. Created specifically for the First Exhibition of the Society of the Itinerants, of which Klodt was one of the five founding members, it was particularly dear and important for the artist.
A leading landscape painter of the second half of the nineteenth century, Klodt was one of the first Russian artists to combine genre pictures with epic landscapes. He was born into the Klodt family, which was famous for its artistic talents, and received an excellent education (initially from Ivan Khrutsky at the Mining Cadet Corps, and then at the Academy of Arts in the landscape painting class of Maksim Vorobiev). He spent time in France and Switzerland as a pensioner, but after only one year abroad he asked permission to return home in order to ‘employ the remainder of my time as a “pensioner” painting scenes from life throughout Russia’. The Board of the Academy heeded the artist’s request, and Klodt returned to his homeland in 1861. He travelled a great deal over the next ten years, preferring to work on subdued views of central Russia and steadily strengthening the authenticity of life and national colour in his initially somewhat idyllic compositions.
In 1870 Klodt became one of the most active organisers of the Society of the Itinerants (or Travelling) Exhibitions. He was not only one of the artists who signed the request to the Minister of Internal Affairs to permit the Society to be set up, but also one of the five people, along with Kramskoy, Perov, Miasoyedov and Ge, who formed its administration. It was during this period that he created his finest canvases. Having become a life-long genuine and consistent adherent to the ideas of the Society, Klodt naturally prepared thoroughly for the first exhibition. This took place in 1871 and Klodt was represented at it by two works, Midday and View of Kiev from the Muraviev Gardens. Critics of the time commented: “The best landscapes at the Itinerants (or Travellers’, Peredvizhniki) Exhibition are by Professor Baron Mikhail Klodt and Mr Savrasov’, who was showing his painting The Rooks Have Returned at the exhibition.
The view that Klodt depicted in his painting, Andreyevsky Hill with its five-domed baroque Church of St Andrew, built between 1749 and 1754 to a commission from Empress Elizabeth and designed by the great architect Rastrelli, was indeed one of the most picturesque in Kiev. It is seen from the garden of Andrey Nikolayevich Muraviev, a well-known church historian and religious writer. In 1854 Muraviev decided to move permanently from St Petersburg to Kiev and he purchased a hilly wasteland near the Church of St Andrew; he ordered it to be cleared, a garden to be laid out and a wooden cottage to be built initially. However, the writer only moved in when he retired in 1866, and by this time a sturdy house had already been built in his garden in Kiev. Empress Maria Alexandrovna visited the Ukraine in 1869, and Muraviev accompanied her to the “holy places of Kiev”. The empress’s entourage included the poet Fyodor Ivanovich Tyutchev, and soon after his departure he wrote the famous lines dedicated to Muraviev s beautiful garden and its owner; they accurately describe the romanticised panorama that Klodt depicted.
“There, high on a precipice, the ethereal, shining church rears up and amazes the eyes as it seems to float towards the heavens. This is where St Andrew’s cross shines even to this day, glistening in Kiev’s sky, a holy guardian of this place. Your dwelling place bows reverentially at its feet, and now you live there, no idle inhabitant, in the evening of your days.”
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.