5 Jun 2013
View of the Great Lake and the Cameron Gallery at Tsarskoe Selo, signed with a monogram and dated 1815.
Oil on canvas, 66 by 81.5 cm.
Provenance: Private collection, UK.
Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert N. Ignatova.
Related Literature: For a watercolour version of the present lot and its pair, see Views of St Petersburg and Its Surroundings, Moscow, The State Tretyakov Gallery, pls. 148 and 149.
Znamenitye russkie khudozhniki. Biograficheskii slovar’, St Petersburg, Azbuka, 2000, p. 394.
A graduate of the Imperial Academy of Arts, Andrei Martynov studied landscape painting under Semyon Shchedrin and went on to paint many landscapes in the grounds of the palaces and country estates around St Petersburg, namely Pavlovsk, Gatchina and Tsarskoe Selo. His works were so popular that in the 1820s, he issued a series of lithographs, replicating compositions from his paintings, including that of the present lot, View of the Great Lake and the Cameron Gallery at Tsarskoe Selo.
Martynov conveys superbly the smooth surface of the Great Lake and the pleasant little corner of the park where ladies stroll with their male companions. Although the tiny figures are only staffage, like the Cameron Gallery visible on the opposite bank of the pond, they animate the landscape of Yekaterininsky Park. Catherine the Great commissioned Charles Cameron to build the Gallery in 1787 in the Classical style, since when it has dominated the park, soaring above the lake, meadows and groves of the beautiful gardens, and adding a new architectural character to them. The view of the Gallery served to create a mood of contemplation and calm, recalling ancient philosophers strolling through the gardens of the Athenian Academy or under the porticos of Roman villas.
Evidently, Martynov was strongly influenced by the outlook of Rousseau and the Romantics. In his treatment of the famous Imperial residences, he focuses not on Cameron’s celebrated architectural work, but tries to convey the atmosphere of life on a country estate, populating the landscape with figures and animating it with movement. The unexpected transition from the mysterious shade of the bank to the smooth surface of the water, perfused with a pearl-white light, the solitary tree standing in the foreground and the motif of feeding a swan mimic the reveries of sentimental walks.
The present lot is one of Martynov’s most successful canvasses of the park at Tsarskoe Selo. Not only does it preserve for posterity the appearance of a superb early 19th century architectural ensemble, it also expresses the aesthetics of Sentimentalism and Pre-Romanticism, with a harmony of form and feeling inherent to Martynov’s works and that is at the core of their artistic value.
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.