8 June 2011
By the Sea. Crimea, signed and dated 1889.
Oil on canvas, laid on board, 62.5 by 97.5 cm.
Provenance: Acquired by the grandparents of the present owners in the 1920s.
Thence by descent.
Private collection, UK.
Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert V. Petrov.
By the Sea. Crimea dates from Lagorio's mature period. In his work of this time, he remained consistently Romantic in style, capturing hues in the natural environment evocative of moods and feelings. In the 1890s his work was distinguished by an ability to combine the immediacy of an on-the-spot study with the artifice of colour effects in the best traditions of Romantic and Academic landscape painting. And it is the very compositions that included people strolling along the beach which marked the highpoint of Lagorio's genre landscapes, combining the polish and tranquillity of the Italian school with a more Russian psychological element.
Lagorio - who was among the most talented of the 19th-century landscape, seascape and battle artists - had a special love of the Crimean coast, for he was born in Feodosia, into the family of the Neapolitan Vice-Consul. His childhood on that coast, together with the direct influence of Aivazovsky, who lived nearby, would determine Lagorio's artistic creed throughout his life. His main subject was the seashore and in portraying it he attached particular significance to the rendering of light, aerial perspective and water in its various states. After graduating from the Academy of Arts, from the class of Maxim Vorobiev and Bogdan Villevalde, and completing a study tour of Europe, he even took a studio for himself in Sudak, where he would often spend the summer months.
Several Crimean landscapes of Yalta and Gurzuf, painted in the same summer as By the Sea. Crimea, stood out at the Academy's 1889 exhibition. Yet it is rather hard to recognise the exact location for the viewpoint of the latter. But the painting is nevertheless executed with all the distinctive traits of the artist's best works: a strong basic composition, decorative but true colouring and effective lighting.
He was already a revered professor of the Academy of Arts and had behind him hundreds of coastal views which were highly rated by his contemporaries, yet he was still able to preserve a certain freshness in his impression, a sincerity of feeling in his Crimean landscapes. His coastal views, joyous, sunny, animated by a sailing ship on the horizon, a boat coming in to moor or elegant figures taking a stroll, were so popular with the local aristocratic high society that the artist decided to devote the whole of his 1893 solo exhibition to landscapes of the Crimea's southern coast.
And it was these Crimean works which constituted the lion's share of the Lagorio works which have come down to us. Certainly, the catalogue for his memorial exhibition, organised in 1906 by Lagorio's admirers in St Petersburg, lists many views of Kuchuk-Lambat, Yalta, Simeiz, Feodosia, Alushta, Sebastopol and the surroundings of Sudak: one of their rather uninformative titles could well be concealing By the Sea. Crimea.
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.