MacDougall's Russian Art Auctions 27-30 May 2012

27 May 2012

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

By the Shore of Lake Ilmen

* 18. PETROV-VODKIN, KUZMA (1878-1939)

By the Shore of Lake Ilmen, signed with a monogram, also further signed, titled in Cyrillic and dated 1936 on the reverse.

Oil on canvas, 66 by 50 cm.
220,000–400,000 GBP

Provenance: Collection of G. Blokh, Leningrad.
Collection of N. Efron, Leningrad.
Private collection, Europe.

Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the experts O. Musakova and A. Lyubimova.

Literature: Yu. Rusakov, Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin. Zhivopis’, grafika, teatral’no-dekoratsionnoe iskusstvo, Leningrad, Aurora, 1986, p. 281, No. 361, illustrated in black and white.

By the Shore of Lake Ilmen is one of several works painted by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin in 1936 on a summer trip to Lake Ilmen near Veliky Novgorod. It was here that the artist also painted his famous composition Collective Farm Girl at Lake Ilmen and the remarkable portrait of the Fisherman’s Daughter. In his later years, he produced a number of portraits of children – his growing daughter Lyonushka, his goddaughter Tatulya Piletskaya, and the unknown Girl in the Woods. It is possible that the girl in By the Shore of Lake Ilmen is also his daughter Elena, sitting in the long grass of the lakeside in a blue swimming costume, her hair still wet from bathing.

In keeping with his later portraits of children, the painting’s composition reflects Petrov-Vodkin’s increasing desire to strengthen the genre element. In contrast with his 1925 portrait Girl on the Beach. Dieppe, with its light, neutral background of shingle almost entirely obscured by the figure of the girl, here the artist strives to set the sitter in a real, everyday environment. Petrov-Vodkin places his study of the girl, with its immediacy and ingenuousness, in the specific setting of a summer’s day by the lake. The backdrop to the portrait is the smooth surface of the lake viewed from above – therefore in rather sharp perspective, but painted with great naturalism – and, in the distance, little boys bathing. The composition is imbued with that special waterside atmosphere, which hides the artistic incompleteness of the shoreline. Everything is tinted by the sparkling reflection of the setting sun, forming delicate splashes of pink on the water and on the sunburnt skin of the children. At the same time, throughout this feast of light and colour, there is the sense of organisational discipline that is intrinsic to all of the artist’s creative oeuvre.

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.