1 December 2010
Nevsky Prospect signed and dated 1935
Oil on canvas, 56 by 69 cm.
Provenance: Collection of V.A. Vlasov, 1942-1950.
Collection of Mikhail Lapshin, the son of the artist, Vladivostok, 1950-1978.
Temporary Collection of the State Russian Museum, with intention of acquisition, 1978-2005.
Collection of Nina Lapchina, daughted-in-law of the artist, Vladivostok, 2005-2006.
Private collection, Europe.
The perception of pre-war Leningrad in the aesthetic context of the new painting has become inextricably linked with the name of Nikolai Lapshin. It may be that he, like no other, was able to convey in his canvases and watercolours, truthfully and extraordinarily poetically, the essence of the humid Petersburg air, the waters of the Neva and the boulevards and town-houses disappearing in a haze of drizzling snow. The silvery range of the artist’s palette is without the slightest injection of "loud" highlights, grating on the eye. The choice of urban locations might not immediately stand out as novel, with expository new departures, but Lapshin’s decision was to shun eye-catching populism. In his schematic delineation, almost lightning sketches, of the magnificent Leningrad architecture, there is no hackneyed, stilted detailing, no winning lighting effects. Lapshin’s Leningrad is "dissolved" in non-specificity: it is dank and grey, but liberated by the artist from the dead weight of ostentation and gloss and thus it lives, smells, breathes.
The fact that this is the first appearance of Nikolai Lapshin at a Russian art auction certainly does not imply any lack of interest in this great master. It is the extreme rarity of his work in private collections and the reverence of collectors, jealously guarding his paintings, which make its appearance an especially significant event.
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.