25 - 28 November 2012 Russian Art Auctions

25 November 2012

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

Still Life With Lilacs

45. LENTULOV, ARISTARKH (1882–1943)

Still Life With Lilacs, inscribed by the artist’s daughter M. Lentulova on the reverse.

Oil on canvas, 65.5 by 88.5 cm.
60,000–90,000 GBP

Executed in the late 1920s.

Provenance: Anonymous sale; Russian Art and Paintings, Sotheby’s London, 27 November 2007, lot 259.
Private collection, UK.

The famous Russian artist Aristarkh Lentulov’s work of the 1920s and 1930s is distinguished by the restraint in the painterly means he employs, and delicacy of manner. His radical experiments with colour and textural form which had brought the artist fame as a “Russian Yarila” (Sun god), and his membership of the legendary Jack of Diamonds group, had been left far behind. The well-known art critic Alexander Benois’ prophesy that the “scarecrows” of 1912 would “in time become classics” began, in Lentulov’s creative work, to take on flesh and blood.

Still Life with Lilacs is graphic evidence, clearer than ever before, of Lentulov’s quest for self-contained compositional structure, for picturesqueness. His choice of subject, modest but exquisite, speaks of the artist being drawn towards elegance in the complexity of structured form. With its poetic spirituality, tranquillity and restrained palette, the painting is distinguished by the richness and orotund fullness of the image, in the Jack of Diamonds spirit.

In Still Life with Lilacs the artist’s very view of nature changes, as the subject from now on has its own independent value which is not susceptible to distortion. There is a rehabilitation of such classic artistic values as light and shade, spatial disposition and ambient light and atmosphere. Impressionist touches make a comeback, the resonance of the image becomes more private and emotional, and the elemental forces of colour and painting are pacified. In the new painting, objects seem robbed of their outlines, submerged in the medium of light, as opposed to the representational Jack of Diamonds still lifes that portray their subjects with emphasis. In this work the artist creates a type of intimate lyrical still life that is strikingly different from his early work but at the same time maintains its considerable artistic worth.

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.