1 December 2011
Grey Day with Storm Clouds, signed and dated 1954, also further titled on the reverse.
Oil on canvas, 116.5 by 91 cm.
Provenance: Estate of the artist.
Private collection, UK.
Exhibited: Boris Anisfeld Retrospective Exhibition, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1958, No. 86.
Literature: Exhibition catalogue, Boris Anisfeld Retrospective Exhibition, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1958, p. 23, No. 86, illustrated.
E. Lingenauber and O. Sugrobova-Roth, Boris Anisfeld. Catalogue raisonne, Düsseldorf, Edition Libertars, 2011, p. 104, P 040, illustrated.
Anisfeld was fascinated by the drama and danger of storms. As a boy in the Bessarabian countryside, he would have experienced at first hand the spectacular violence of summer thunderstorms rolling down from the Carpathians. Later in life, he spent the summer of 1913 studying and painting in Spain, where according to the artist’s daughter, he paid particular attention to El Greco’s style of painting stormy skies. This influence is clearly seen in The Storm, 1919-1920, and in another painting from 1938-40, Coming Storm, as well as in this work Grey Day with Storm Clouds.
This painting, unlike the others, presents the environment before the storm has fully broken. The rising wind is kicking up the women’s skirts and capes, the colours of which blend with those of the swirling clouds in the background. They and their wolfish dog stand as calmly as the golden birch to their left, waiting. In western art and literature, the storm, or storms, often stand in for Fate. As Anisfeld grew older, he became more fatalistic in his outlook. But he never lost track of the fact that fate cannot prevent one from facing it resolutely. This resolution, coupled with the acceptance of the inevitability of one’s fate, is what comes across in this picture.
Notes on symbols:
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