5 June 2013 Russian Art Auctions

5 June 2013

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

Study of Christ

47. POLENOV, VASILY (1844-1927)

Study of Christ, signed and dated 1886.

Oil on canvas, laid on board, 38.5 by 31 cm.
80,000–120,000 GBP

The present lot is a study for the painting Christ and the Sinner, 1888, now in the collection of The State Russian Museum, St Petersburg.

Provenance: Collection of A. Koshelev.
Private collection, USA.
Private collection, UK.

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

Vasily Polenov’s Biblical series constitutes not only an exceptional part of the artist’s oeuvre, but equally of the 19th century Russian realist school as a whole. This shoulder-length study of Christ in a head-dress is part of the artist’s preparatory work for one of the greatest works of that series entitled Christ and the Sinner.

The idea for the painting originated in the artist’s mind as early as 1868 while still a student at the Imperial Academy of Arts and he worked on it for more then a decade, finishing the canvas in 1888. Altogether, Polenov created over 150 studies, drawings and variations of the work, of which the present lot is one.

Executed in a broad, impressionistic manner, Study of Christ is a vivid illustration of Polenov’s skill as a colourist. The writer Vikenty Veresaev wrote of Christ and the Sinner which he saw at the Itinerants’ exhibition: “The painting gives us Christ in the only possible way in which we can now envision him – not as God, but as a man with an incredibly large soul.” This felicitous appraisal can be applied in full to the expressive and vivacious study offered here which is a depiction of the protagonist of this iconic painting.

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.