MacDougall's Russian Art Auctions 27-30 May 2012

27 May 2012

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

Russian Maiden in a Red Headscarf

* 130. MALIAVIN, PHILIPPE (1869-1940)

Russian Maiden in a Red Headscarf, signed.

Oil on canvas, 100 by 79 cm.
220,000–300,000 GBP

Provenance: Private collection, Europe.

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

Painted in bright, expressive colours, Philippe Maliavin’s Russian Maiden in a Red Headscarf is a fine example of the artist’s Russian period and one of the notable paintings in his famous series of portraits of Russian peasant women.

Maliavin was born into a large and poor peasant family and, compared with his artist colleagues, was better suited to understand the common Russian peasant. Therefore, it is not surprising that this artist found fame with his masterfully executed paintings and drawings, depicting the various aspects of peasant life. He was particularly famous for his mesmerising portraits of village girls and women.

The present lot is a skilfully executed, charmingly spontaneous portrait of a young girl in a red headscarf. The girl looks askance at the viewer, pensively or perhaps playfully, and her long, delicate fingers, crossed over her chest, are playing with the beads of her festive necklace which, like her headscarf, are painted in the artist’s favourite bright red colour. She appears to be assessing what to make of her companion and contemplating her next step.

A peculiar feature of both this and other exemplary works of Maliavin is the sincerity with which he paints his models; neither the brightness of their dresses nor any other painterly attributes divert attention from the fact that the artist truly excelled in the genre of the psychological portrait. A worthy student of his great teacher Ilya Repin, Maliavin successfully conveys the psychological traits of his models, their emotional state, and sees right through to their inner world. However, Maliavin quickly matured into an independent artist, and in contrast to Repin, most of his works are without the narrative or social awareness so characteristic of the works of the Itinerant artists.

Maliavin stands out for his consistency, adherence to his favourite themes and his deep understanding of the people he portrayed; it is for these qualities that he is so highly valued by art lovers and collectors.

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.