MacDougall's Russian Art Auctions 1-2 Dec 2010

1 Dec 2010

Artist Index / Full Catalogue


Cover Design for the Children's Magazine "Ezh", No. 2, 1929

* 53. TYRSA, NIKOLAI 1887-1942

Cover Design for the Children's Magazine "Ezh", No. 2, 1929

Watercolour on paper, 26.5 by 21 cm
7,000-9,000 GBP


Exhibited: Nikolai Andreevich Tyrsa (1887-1942), The State Russian Museum, Leningrad, 1967.
Nikolai Andreevich Tyrsa (1887-1942). Zhivopis', Grafika, Khudozhestvennoe Steklo, The State Russian Museum, St Petersburg, 1992.

Literature: Ezh, No. 2, 1929, cover.
Exhibition catalogue, Nikolai Andreevich Tyrsa (1887-1942), Leningrad, 1967, p. 32, listed.
Exhibition catalogue, Nikolai Andreevich Tyrsa (1887-1942). Zhivopis', Grafika, Khudozhestvennoe Steklo, Saint Petersburg, 1992, p. 98, cat. no. 645, listed.

Leningrad in the 1920s and 30s was a real Mecca for children’s book illustration. Distinctive, colourful children’s books published there were in demand all over the USSR. Several generations of Soviet children grew up with the illustrations of Vladimir Lebedev, Alexander Samokhvalov, Alexei Pakhomov, Nikolai Lapshin, Nikolai Tyrsa, Valentin Kurdov and Vladimir Konashevich. When artists were not selling many paintings, and few of them received government commissions to design propaganda material, work on illustrations for periodicals and for other publications was not only a way to earn a living but also a kind of breathing space to allow creative experimentation, which was hardly touched by the censors.

Nikolai Tyrsa, like many of his colleagues, was an active contributor to the children’s magazine Ezh (Hedgehog). It is the dynamic and eye-catching cover for the second issue of 1929 which we present in the present catalogue. The illustration was for the story 1000 Travellers, by L. Saveliov and V. Tsaupe. Based on real events, it told how, after the Revolution, around a thousand young lads were sent to the USA with the support of the American government, from famine-struck Petrograd via the Russian Far East. Some of them reached America unscathed and later returned, while others did not make it, tragically dying on the arduous journey. The artist’s daughter, Maria Nikolaevna Tyrsa, recalled that she actually knew some of these boys who had returned. Nikolai Tyrsa himself was so moved by this extraordinary tale that he painted this striking watercolour based on it.


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.