MacDougall's Russian Art Auctions 1-2 Dec 2010

1 December 2010

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

At the Dressing Table


At the Dressing Table signed and dated 1872

Oil on canvas, 71 by 53.5 cm.
55,000-70,000 GBP

Authenticity certificate from the expert V. Petrov. 
Authenticity has also been confirmed by the expert T. Goryacheva.

Russian genre painting of the mid- and late-19th century is distinguished by its impeccable technical finish, of course, but also by its precise handling of the character traits of its subjects, their place on the social scale and their finely-observed basic human weaknesses. Nikolai Gribkov’s works are extremely rare and almost never found in either private or museum collections. Unfortunately, almost nothing is known about the life of this notable artist, except that from 1860 to 1871 he studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture under Evgraf Sorokin and Vasily Perov, and that in 1871 he was awarded the Minor Silver Medal for his picture Cook Preparing a Galantine. At the current time two magnificent works from the brush of Nikolai Gribkov, Grandfather’s Tail-Coat (1871) and Old Man with a Book (early 1870s), are in the collection of the State Tretyakov Gallery. Although the influence of his actual teachers was undoubtedly important, it is quite obvious that Gribkov is also a direct descendant of the genre tradition of the great Pavel Fedotov — the latter an artist who was able to stop time, to capture a moment and, having gained entry to the rooms of a country gentleman, nobleman or common functionary, could convey to the viewer, through the patina of time, a row brewing, a moment of joy or bitterness or indeed just the rustle of a dressing gown or the shuffling of fancy slippers. Here Gribkov entertains us via a somewhat sentimental, satirical rendering of his subject. It is a demi-mondain, a would-be gigolo not in the first flush of youth, sitting at his dressing table. The ageing Lothario carefully smoothes his fashionable wig, possibly considering plans for some imminent high society adventures, maybe of an amorous nature.

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.