MacDougall Auctions 28 November 2008

28 Nov 2008

Artist Index / Full Catalogue


* 55. KONCHALOVSKY, PETR 1876-1956

Park signed, titled "Park" in Cyrillic, dated 1921 and numbered "395" on the reverse

Oil on canvas, 61 by 73.5 cm.

Exhibited: Paintings by P. Konchalovsky, 1st Exhibition, Moscow, 1922. Paintings by P. Konchalovsky, 2nd Exhibition, Paris, 1925.

Literature: P. Konchalovsky. Khudozhestvenoe nasledie, Iskusstvo, Moscow, 1964, page 105.

Given his circumstances and the greyness of urban life at the beginning of the 1920s, it was virtually impossible for Konchalovsky to work in his studio in winter. Therefore, the works executed by him at Abramtsevo in the summers of 1920 and 1921 have acquired an even greater significance.

It was at Abramtsevo that Konchalovsky finally found his natural subject – the famous oak grove. He was the first of many artists painting in Abramtsevo to “discover” the oak grove. The towering oaks grew freely, spaced well apart from one another, splendid in their isolation and in the proportions of their small “architectural” groups. Virtually every work executed by Konchalovsky from 1920 to 1921 centred on these “group portraits” of oaks. These great trees were portrayed with the most refined sense of their power, the heroic dimensions of their trunks and the great spread of their branches, shrouded in their abundant and restrainedly luxuriant, light green foliage.

In the autumn of 1920 an exhibition was held by the "Barbizon" group of artists in Moscow, and this proved to be a major event for Konchalovsky’s work. The following summer he returned to Abramtsevo in order to continue his landscapes but influenced by the works he had seen at the exhibition. He would passionately and repeatedly paint the oaks, portraying them within what were physically small canvases but were nevertheless remarkably monumental works. His Abramtsevo Park paintings became less refined than his Still Lifes, and it was in these works that the artist finally overcame the polychromy of previous years. A serene and dignified tone reigns over everything, reconciling and absorbing the formerly fragmented colour sensations. A Boy in the Park is a fine example of a small Abramtsevo work which perfectly illustrates the spatial relationship between the oaks and the two figures, those of a little boy and a horse, and in which the “arboreal architecture” has been competently and solidly constructed. In the opinion of the renowned art historian Pavel Muratov, “These small Abramtsevo paintings inarguably rank amongst the very best works ever produced by Konchalovsky”.

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