MacDougall's Russian Art Auctions 8-9 June 2011

8 June 2011

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

Borisella, the Artist's Villa in Cagnes-sur-Mer,

* 22. GRIGORIEV, BORIS (1886-1939)

Borisella, the Artist's Villa in Cagnes-sur-Mer, signed, further inscribed "Borisella" and dated 1937 on the reverse.

Oil on cardboard, 40.5 by 56 cm.
50,000-70,000 GBP

Provenance: Private collection, Chile.
Acquired from the above by the previous owner.
Private collection, USA,

Exhibited: Possibly B. Grigoriev Exhibition, Bernheim gallery, Paris, 1937.
Possibly B. Grigoriev Exhibition, Lilienfeld Gallery, New York, 1938.

Literature: Pinakotheke, No. 22-23, Moscow, 2006, p. 255.
T. Galeyeva, Boris Grigoriev, St Petersburg, Zolotoy Vek, 2007, p. 192, illustrated as Corner of a Garden.

The present lot Borisella is dated 1937 and reveals a new side to Boris Girgoriev’s creative personality. From the second half of the 1920s the artist partially renounced figurative and plastic symbolism. He wrote: “I am now entering the kingdom of pure painting, I am making every effort to try to master that perfection of form, without which art cannot be called sincere… Here, form loses all of its complexity and frequent artificiality, so that it is as simple and earnest as the feeling itself”.

The artist turned to “pure painting” in his landscapes and still lifes, drawing a wealth of stylistic and tonal nuances from his favourite, simple motifs. The influence of the French artistic tradition, which the artist felt anew whilst working in the south of France, had a direct role in this process. He so loved this part of the world that in 1927 he acquired a plot of land in Cagnes-sur-Mer, Provence, where at various times Auguste Renoir, Amedeo Modigliani and Chaim Soutine had also lived.

Grigoriev settled in Borisella, a villa he had built, which had a particular significance for him. In the words of his wife, he was “a fidget, he loved to travel and always eagerly sought…to see new things”, however he perceived his property in Cagnes as a mysterious world which was important to him. Its uniqueness is also reflected in the name he chose, joining his name, Boris, with that of his wife, Ella.

The painting Borisella depicts a corner of the garden so dear to the artist and it appears that it was one of 44 works at the last one-man exhibition held during his lifetime, in the Lilienfeld Gallery in New York. Grigoriev’s virtuoso talent is just as independent, joyful and spontaneous as the nature which he depicts is joyful and carefree. This remarkable landscape is one of the best late works of the artist.

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.