27 May 2012
View of Plios, signed, inscribed in Cyrillic "Plios" and dated 1918.
Oil on canvas, 67 by 85 cm.
Provenance: Private collection, UK.
Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert V. Petrov.
Exhibited: Possibly exhibited at the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Petrograd, 1918, No. 97.
View of Plios is one of Alexander Makovsky’s best-known works. Son of the celebrated Peredvizhnik Vladimir Makovsky, Alexander arrived at the banks of the Volga, earlier immortalised by Levitan, as an already mature artist. In the hard years after the Revolution, this small settlement and its picturesque surroundings which still retained features of the old merchant life became a bountiful source of inspiration, tinged with nostalgia. Here, during his summer migration from his job as head of the art department of the Russian Red Cross Society, Makovsky created a whole series of notable canvasses, halfgenre, half-landscape and saturated with light and colour, which have become one of the most brilliant episodes in his oeuvre.
After a long break, the artist in his Volga paintings of the 1920s returns to painting large-scale, highly-populated compositions, and for these he produces a large number of carefully rendered studies portraying distant river vistas and individual protagonists – peasants, boatmen, merchants and those out strolling along the river bank. It is no coincidence that we sometimes encounter those same protagonists, depicted by Makovsky in his series of tempera works, Volga Types (1922), and in small oils such as Peasant with a Tobacco Pouch and Acquaintances (both 1921), The Mushroom Gatherer, and The Old Beekeeper (both 1922), in such major paintings as the present lot View of Plios, and many others: Market Day at Plios (1919–1923), Waiting for the Ferry (1920–1923), Street in Plios (1923), Easter Procession (1921–1923) and At the Ferry (1924).
Most works in Makovsky’s Plios cycle have long since entered the collections of the Tretyakov Gallery and other leading museums of Russian art, thus the appearance on the market of a work of this quality can without doubt be considered a great rarity.
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.