25 Nov 2012
Portrait of Tien Po, signed, titled, inscribed "Sou Tchou" and dated "19 dec 1931".
Sanguine, charcoal and pastel on paper, 76 by 56 cm.
Provenance: Important private collection, Germany.
Literature: A. Iacovleff, Dessins et peintures d'Asie, excécutés au cours de l'Expédition Citroën Centre-Asie, Paris, Lucien Vogel, 1934, pl. 34, illustrated.
C. Haardt de la Baume, Alexandre Iacovleff. L'Artist voyageur, Paris, Flammarion, 2000, p. 96, illustrated.
Alexandre Iacovleff. Itinérances, Paris, Musée des Années 30, Somogy éditions d'art, 2004, p. 178, no. 127, illustrated.
The present portrait by Alexander Yakovlev depicts Tien Po, one of the many local guides of the Croisiere jaune, the famous automobile expedition across Asia organised by French industrialist Andre Citroen. From April 1931 to February 1932, the expedition made its way from Beirut to Peking, passing through Persia, Afghanistan and British India, following the ancient Silk Road. The Croisiere jaune was Yakovlev’s second Citroen expedition. He had previously been the official artist of the legendary Croisiere noire across the African continent.
Yakovlev not only documented the peoples of Asia, its landscapes and archeological sites, but was also very involved in the preparations for the expedition. Throughout the journey, he often worked in extremely difficult conditions. The Chinese winter proved to be extremely harsh, and Yakovlev’s paint would often freeze. Travelling through politically unstable regions, the expedition group was also frequently denied passage and held hostage. Yakovlev would use this time to work: “In Suzhou, where the expedition was stopped, I spent long evenings making portraits of my travelling companions”. It was here, in the historic town of Suzhou, in China’s Kansu province, that the artist created this striking portrait of Tien Po.
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