5 June 2013 Russian Art Auctions

5 Jun 2013

Artist Index / Full Catalogue


Portrait of Antonio Triana

* 76. FECHIN, NIKOLAI (1881-1955)

Portrait of Antonio Triana, signed.

Oil on canvas, 61 by 50.5 cm.
300,000–500,000 GBP


Provenance: Estate of Walter and Sonja Caron Stein, New York.
Private collection, Europe.

Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert Yu. Rybakova.
Authenticity has also been confirmed by the expert G. Tuluzakova.
Authenticity has also been confirmed by the expert A. Kuznetsov.

This portrait of the famous flamenco dancer Antonio Triana is a magnificent painting belonging to Nikolai Fechin’s American period.

Antonio Triana (1906–1989) first met Fechin in the 1930s during one of his American tours, but only became close friends with the artist after they both relocated to California. The dancer resolved to move to America for good at the end of the 1930s when, with first Spain then Europe in the throes of war, difficulties arose with performances by national ensembles. In great demand both as a performer and choreographer, Triana’s career took off in the USA and Mexico and he soon bought a house in Los Angeles where, in the little suburb of Santa Monica, Fechin also settled in 1933.

The friendship between artist and dancer grew stronger with every year. Fechin gave painting lessons to Triana’s daughter and often visited their home, which was filled with Old Masters and paintings by contemporary Spanish artists, which the Spaniard collected with characteristic passion.

Fechin would often attend Triana’s performances, making sketches during concerts and, as recollected by the dancer’s wife, would always try in his portraits of the dancer “to show the hidden nature of the Andalusian character, expressing it through unrestrained colour, the set of the nose and the flashing eyes”.

The portrait here offered at auction shows Triana in the Andalusian gypsy costume of one of his star turns. He set this dance to the well-known “El Polo” music from Isaac Albeniz’s Iberia Suite, and it was to bring him renown in Spain, Portugal, France and England, where Triana toured in the 1920s and 1930s. He did not part company with this image in America, where Andalusian gypsy dances to the guitar enjoyed enormous popularity with the public.

This portrait, executed in the artist’s trademark style, preserves the étude characteristic of bold, virtuoso brushwork — with the dynamic application of paint to the face and sweeping motion of the palette knife to the background. It seems that the portrait was painted in a single sitting; so comprehensively and swiftly has the artist captured the pose and spark of genuine, mischievous merriment, and with such verve and temperament are the colours applied.

Portrait of Antonio Triana is not only an eloquent image of a brilliant dancer, worthy of its place in any gallery of the greatest performing artists of the 20th century, but also a superb example of Fechin’s artistic mastery which represents the best of the artist’s mature creative period.


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.