8 June 2011
Mill in the Forest Clearing, signed and dated 1887 .
Oil on canvas, 92.5 by 142.5 cm.
Provenance: Private collection, Czech Republic.
Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert V. Petrov
Literature: V. Fiala, Russian Art in Czechoslovakian Collections, Leningrad, Khudozhnik RSFSR, 1974, p. 106, No. 281, listed.
Vladimir Orlovsky numbers among the throng of remarkable masters of the Russian and Ukrainian landscape school. Painted in 1887, Mill in the Forest Clearing belongs to this artist's celebrated views of Malorossiya. The artist's work was a paean to the poetry of the southern countryside, depicting with equal skill the surface of stagnant water on a sultry day, the southern Russian corn-fields, arable land and bright light. Fedor Bulgakov, one of the shrewdest of the artist's contemporary critics, wrote - and with good reason - that "with their effects of the southern sun, all his landscapes reveal the painter's serene view of nature, a virtuoso mastery of the grand style and an uncommon productivity. His distinctive southern villages lit by the evening sun and fanned by warm breezes, and his copses bathing in the bright light of the midday sun: how did the artist capture these heaven-sent effects? It is not enough to have a gift and to be trained in technique. Careful, profound and persistent observation of nature is also required. In fact, Orlovsky did not master the sunlight effect immediately - but he was on the right path. During the spring and summer he tirelessly painted studies, day after day, noting even the slightest change in the light, in the warm air, in the shadows, and in any new manifestations in the vegetation due to the effect of this light. During the autumn and winter the studies were worked up into paintings, many of which, unfortunately, went from the artist's studio into the hands of customers without ever being seen at public exhibitions."
In fact, the work of Vladimir Orlovsky was the object of great attention and rapturous response from his contemporaries. He was known as the "leading light of Russian landscape painting" and an "incomparable painter of the southern countryside". In the 1880s, the artist was at the peak of his ability, energy and fame. His pictures took pride of place in the collections of many celebrated and wealthy people of the time: Soldatenkov, Tretyakov and Kuznetsov, Eliseev and Lichtenstein, Baron Shteyngel and Demidov, Prince San Donato, Count Sheremetev and Prince Vyazemsky as well as Alexander III and members of the Imperial family. There is no doubt that today too Mill in the Forest Clearing will become a worthy acquisition for some serious and respected collection of classic art.
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