MacDougall's Russian Art Auctions 1 December 2011

1 December 2011

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

Portrait of an Unknown Woman

* 209. TYRANOV, ALEXEI (1808-1859)

Portrait of an Unknown Woman, signed with a monogram.

Oil on canvas, 125.5 by 99.5 cm.
80,000-120,000 GBP

Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert V. Petrov.

This portrait is one of the best works of the celebrated Russian portraitist Alexei Tyranov, whose popularity in the 1830s and 1840s was rivalled only by the famous Karl Bryullov. A contemporary once noted that at exhibitions there was always such a throng of people around Tyranov’s paintings that it was impossible to get past. Among those who sat for him were the most prominent figures of the period, including the seascape painter Ivan Aivazovsky.

Fate was always kind to Tyranov, ever since his youth when, as a 16 year-old from a poor, petty bourgeois family, he was awarded a place in Alexei Venetsianov’s school for his “remarkable talents”. Venetsianov arranged for Tyranov to attend the Imperial Academy of Arts and, after several years of successful study, he joined Karl Bryullov’s studio in 1836.

Tyranov’s gift as an original and skilled portraitist is plain to see in the work offered. Before us we have not just a model, no mere objectivised paradigm of beauty, but a real, live young woman made of flesh and blood, sensual and gracious, bewitching us with her gentle half-smile, yet at the same time confidently meeting our gaze and radiating a quiet calm. The artist has lovingly depicted the model’s thick, black curls, which set off the delicate skin so well, and masterfully recreated the costly, heavy fabric of her dress, contrasting with the refined elegance of its lace trimmings.

Portrait of an Unknown Woman exemplifies Tyranov’s talent at the peak of his fame and is a notable example of a Russian formal portrait of the first half of the 19th century.

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.