MacDougall's Russian Art Auctions 1-2 Dec 2010

1 December 2010

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

Blue Fountain

* 316. KUZNETSOV, PAVEL 1878-1968

Blue Fountain signed, c. 1904-1907

Oil on canvas, 98.5 by 68.5 cm.
350,000-500,000 GBP

Authenticity has been confirmed by the expert M. Valyaeva.
Authenticity has also been confirmed by the expert I. Geraschenko.

The work Blue Fountain presented here for auction was painted by Kuznetsov during his Blue Rose period, undoubtedly the most important stage of his career. It determined several significant directions in the development of Russian art of the Silver Age. A fire in 1911 at Black Swan, the country house near Moscow of the art patron and collector Nikolai Riabushinsky, destroyed many canvases by members of the Blue Rose group. And it was mostly the works of Pavel Kuznetsov which suffered, since he had had the leading role in designing the villa’s interiors. The tragedy destroyed irreplaceable works of art from a unique historical period which by then had already come to an end.

Kuznetsov worked on his favourite subject, fountains, from 1904 to 1907. The artist himself associated this preoccupation of his with the real fountains of his youth in Saratov, the Volga town where he was born. Most probably, the man-made, decorative spring remained as an indelible memory in the mind of the artist, as a symbol of the water of life and of the freshness which bathes nature, and also symbolising the currents of his own dazzling, fantastical imaginings. It was the fountain which Kuznetsov made his distinctive, emblematic "artefact" during that period and it was the fountain which became the indispensable element of the majority of his Blue Rose works. Their crepuscular colouring, with glints of silver, leads the viewer into a dreamlike ecstasy, diverting our consciousness from the paltriness and vain concerns of our everyday life.

As Alla Rusakova enthusiastically writes in her monograph on the artist, "The very idea of the fountain satisfied a particular predilection of Kuznetsov for self-contained movement. In this respect the fountain was, for him, the ultimate version of the water-raising bucket wheel. Sometimes it is the main subject of the painting and sometimes the background against which, as in an elusive dream, some action is being played out; sometimes only details appear, heads of sphinxes, included as legitimate components of the fabric of this artist’s graphic language".

The present work is without any doubt of museum quality both in its historical significance and artistic merit, and offers a rare chance to acquire a painting from Pavel Kuznetsov’s most sought after period.

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.