MacDougall's Russian Art Auctions 1-2 Dec 2010

1 December 2010

Artist Index / Full Catalogue


* 112. USPENSKI, ALEXEI 1892-1941

Nude c. 1935

Crayon on paper, 42.5 by 63.5 cm
4,000-6,000 GBP

This splendid sanguine by one of Russia’s best-known artists, Alexander Yakovlev, belongs to a series of studies for what is arguably his most ambitious painting, Bathing. Yakovlev began the process of realising his idea at the end of spring 1912. He planned to present the work at the competition of the Imperial Academy of Arts together with another large-format canvas, In a Bath House. The artist completed more than a hundred drawings and sanguines, one of which is presented here for auction.

Admiring the style of the Old Masters, Yakovlev, along with his close friend and fellow student Vasily Shukhaev, abandoned Impressionist experiments and instead offered Russian viewers his revolutionary, updated “Neo-Academic” painting style. His brilliant technique featured flawless and robust draughtsmanship, rich, luminous painting and a deliberate referencing of Old Masters of the Flemish school. Bathing became one of the sensations of 1913 and when shown it was met with supreme delight on the part of the committee and the critics, and Yakovlev was granted the title of “artist” and a study placement abroad. For decades, Alexander Yakovlev has rightly been seen as leading the revival of the sanguine technique in Russia in both Classical and Neo-Classical styles. Not one of the artist’s students was ever able to surpass his mastery.

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.