25 November 2012
Auburn Haired Girl Holding Red Roses, signed.
Oil on canvas, 65.5 by 51 cm.
Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert V. Petrov.
Authenticity has also been confirmed by the expert T. Goryacheva.
Literature: O. Sugrobova-Roth and E. Lingenauber, Alexei Harlamoff. Catalogue raisonné, Düsseldorf, Edition A. Harlamoff, 2007, p. 122, No. 45a, listed; pl. 36a, illustrated.
Only a few foreign artists in Paris in the last quarter of the 19th century succeeded in achieving fame. Alexei Harlamoff occupies a special place even among these few: the prizewinning graduate of the Imperial Academy of Arts achieved popularity in the then artistic capital of the world, working practically in a single genre. Harlamoff entered the history of Russian and French art first and foremost as a master of intimate studio portraiture of women and girls, and his similar so-called “heads”. His work maintained its popularity among Russian, French, British and American patrons and buyers from the mid-1870s up to the beginning of the 20th century. Persistent interest in an artist in an era of such rapidly changing tastes as the end of the 19th century can only be explained by the consistently high artistic quality of his work (which was specially remarked upon even by a critic seemingly so distant from Harlamoff as Alexander Benois) and his meticulous draughtsmanship and delicate, slightly trembling touch of the brush on canvas. Harlamoff’s painterly manner is so distinctive that a lover of his art only needs a small fragment of a painting to recognise the hand of the master. When asked, the artist would often make copies of his paintings, but his technical virtuosity rarely allows the original version to be distinguished from its copy.
The other important reason for Harlamoff’s popularity was that he was not a psychologist, but first and foremost a lyricist who had the skill to imbue his images with particular poignancy. His young women are most often depicted in half-profile. When, however, they are shown en face, their gaze is only seemingly addressed to the viewer; they are not pursuing a dialogue, but are immersed in their inner world. It is the atmosphere of mystery and the “unstated” that prevents a clear line being drawn between Harlamoff’s individual portraits and his “heads”. It would probably be correct to say that there was really no such line and by creating so many different varieties of “heads”, the artist was endowing them with an individual character. It is no wonder that the title Portrait of the Artist’s Daughter is so often incorrectly assigned, when in reality the painter died childless. In fulfilling these portraiture commissions, Harlamoff was painting images that would also be attractive to a future viewer who would be unaware of the names of his models.
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