MacDougall's Russian Art Auctions 1-2 Dec 2010

1 December 2010

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

Still Life in Blue Room

310. ANISFELD, BORIS 1879-1973

Still Life in Blue Room signed and dated 1916, also titled and numbered "106" on the reverse

Oil on canvas, 63 by 80.5 cm.
60,000-90,000 GBP

Provenance: Collection of the artist’s family. Private collection, UK.  
Authenticity has been confirmed by the artist's grandson Charles Chatfield-Taylor.

The work now offered for auction is from Boris Anisfeld’s Russian period. Painted in 1916, a year before he emigrated to the USA, it is a perfect example of this artist’s technical mastery and also of his ability to convey the particular metaphysical spirituality of the objects around us, by means of the dazzling use of colour in his painting.

Boris Anisfeld left an important mark on the history of 20th century art, both as a painter and as a stage designer. He had become widely recognised long before leaving Russia and was a member of the World of Art movement, regularly exhibiting with that group from 1910 to 1917. Despite the great popularity of Anisfeld’s theatre work for productions by Sergei Diaghilev, Mikhail Fokine, Vaslav Nijinsky and Anna Pavlova, it was painting which, as the artist himself acknowledged, was always closest to his heart.

Still Life in the Blue Room is distinguished by the harmony of its composition and by the lyrical mood which animates it. The colour range here is less resonant, less emotionally intense than in many later still lifes, but the exquisite juxtaposition of colours, which became the artist’s trademark, is certainly to the fore. Thanks to this Anisfeld, the "alchemist of colour", conveys a poeticised image of early spring and endows this composition, precise, thoroughly constructed, less spontaneous than many of his later works, with a Symbolist subtext. Despite what might be perceived as a "posed", static feel to the composition, Anisfeld in fact strives for a more polysemous interpretation of reality, conveying its transience, instability and intangibility. A unification and economy of form — this is the metaphorical approach Anisfeld takes, strongly influenced by the Blue Rose group, to create a new reality, filtered through the creative vision of the artist and conveyed to the viewer via symbols and signs. However, despite the fact that Anisfeld remained, throughout his creative life, true to the principles of Russian Symbolism, the technical precision of his works and his unexpected colour choices assured him a reputation as one of the most gifted representatives of the "younger" generation of the World of Art.

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.