MacDougall's Russian Art Auctions 27-30 May 2012

27 May 2012

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

Spring Thaw

* 117. KOROVIN, KONSTANTIN (1861-1939)

Spring Thaw, signed and dated 1912.

Oil on canvas, 69 by 97 cm.
280,000–400,000 GBP

Provenance: Collection of V. Petrov, Leningrad.
Acquired from the above.
Private collection, Switzerland.

Exhibited: Russkoe iskusstvo XVIII – nachala XX veka iz chastnykh sobranii Leningrada, Leningrad, 1988 (label on the reverse).

Literature: Exhibition catalogue, Russkoe iskusstvo XVIII – nachala XX veka iz chastnykh sobranii Leningrada, Leningrad, Khudozhnik RSFSR, 1988, p. 31, listed.

The remarkable Russian painter Konstantin Korovin is represented here by a work from his best period. The landscapes that the artist painted in the Vladimir region on the Okhotino estate are unquestionably the golden legacy left by the artist. They contain the genuine sincerity of a man communing with nature, and a sense of immediacy and liveliness in his perception of her. What is surprising is that Korovin painted many of his large oils en plein air, masterfully committing to canvas the nuances of natural light and changes in colour. These are among the main postulates of Impressionism which Korovin had cultivated since his student days at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, where he was taught by the celebrated artists Alexei Savrasov and Vasily Polenov.

Korovin had a particular approach to painting the Russian winter. The silvery range of colours in his winter landscapes of Central Russia is lighter than in his northern works. The gloomy leaden tones do not weigh heavily on the atmosphere of the work, but convey entirely naturally the movement of the air, at one moment warm and damp, the next bitingly cold. Looking closely at the peaceful colours in Korovin’s Spring Thaw – colours full of the subtlest nuances – the eye is delighted by the warm ochre tones which delicately sit alongside shades of silver-violet and, in turn, enliven the overall tonality of the work. It is this restrained palette, combined with impasto brushwork to suggest the viscosity of melting snow, which creates the extraordinary character of this work of art.

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.