MacDougall Auctions 2-3 December 2009

2 December 2009

Artist Index / Full Catalogue


269. KOTARBINSKY, VASILY 1849-1921

Contemplation signed

Oil on canvas, 66 by 116 cm.
100,000-150,000 pounds

Provenance: Sammlung Bernice Sommer, Florida.
Private collection, Germany.

Although born in Poland, Kotarbinsky spent most of his creative life in Kiev. It was whilst Kotarbinsky was a student at the Warsaw Gymnasium (1867–1871) that he developed the foundations of his artistic skill in the drawing classes of the Warsaw Institute for Fine Arts. He left for Rome in 1868, where he studied at the Accademia di San Luca under the guidance of Podesti (1872–1875). Kotarbinsky then attended the Imperial Academy of Arts, and in 1881 he was awarded a Second gold medal for his work Vulcan Chaining Prometheus to a Rock in the Caucasus. A year later he received the title of Class Artist, First Category for his picture The Sick Prince Pozharsky Receiving the Emissaries from Moscow. From then on the artist’s creative output would always exemplify the salon interpretation of historical, mythological and biblical subjects. After graduating from the Academy, Kotarbinsky returned to the Eternal City which provided him with a fertile soil for the creation of mythological compositions in a “classical environment”.

In 1887 Kotarbinsky travelled to Kiev at the invitation of a friend from Rome, Pavel Svedomsky, to participate in the mural painting for the Cathedral of St Vladimir (1887–1895); he was to remain there for the rest of his life and produce numerous large-scale murals and paintings to decorate the private houses of the rich and famous Kiev society, including commissions from Ivan Tereshchenko and Bogdan Khanenko.

The painting offered for the auction serves as a fine example of such work. Painted by a fine master of composition and light, this decorative canvas unites architectural and landscape realia with a salon subject and a hint of mysticism. The typical and easily recognisable ancient forms remain in the master’s canvases – terraces, steps, the bases of pillars – a view over the sea lit by a setting sun, the passionate search for an ideal of southern beauty, all accomplished in a modern style: these better than anything else characterise the artist’s “trademark” style.

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.