5 June 2013
Artvin, signed and dated 1912, also further signed twice, titled in Cyrillic, numbered "538" and dated on the backboard.
Oil on canvas, 36 by 48 cm.
Provenance: A gift from the artist to Yakov Zarobyan, First Secretary to the Communist Party of Armenia.
Private collection, USA.
Literature: R. Drampyan, Saryan, Moscow, Iskusstvo, 1964, p. 100, listed.
The composition of Artvin is very characteristic of Martiros Saryan and anticipates many similar mountain landscapes that he painted in later years. The low mountain crests are covered in greenery and a deep gorge shows dark blue. In Artvin there were many orchards, olive groves and vineyards. Despite its small size, this study seems monumental. Saryan chose a viewpoint for his study from where all four planes of the mountain landscape are within sight. The first plane is the left bank of the gorge, with an attractive little house standing on its own above the precipice; then there is the gorge itself; behind it lies the mountain ridge, with tiny white houses nestling on its slopes, and beyond them another ridge with a magnificent summit on the horizon. In this study, inspired by the beauty of nature, Saryan uses his brush to capture the language and soul of the mountains. Sometimes his exultant love for this earthly beauty reaches beyond his canvasses to find expression in words as well: “many people love the sea, the broad mirror of its surface, the sound of the waves breaking on the shore with a rhythm like a lullaby. But the waves forever close to my heart are mountains, soaring aloft and frozen still against the sky in blocks of stone, with wide valleys, rocky rivers, precipices and steep gorges. If at sea I have felt coldness from the monotony of being surrounded by water, and found interest only in its gentle splashing, then the mountains have brought me delight and made me forget about everything when I have seen their great variety of forms and colours coalesce in a kind of powerful symphony. My heart has been filled with love and endless admiration for Mother Nature, an artist’s best teacher, friend and inspiration” (Martiros Saryan, from unpublished notes).
According to the family catalogue compiled by the artist’s wife, Lusik Lazarevna Saryan, number 538 (the picture numbers on the reverse of many Saryan canvasses correspond to the numbering in the family catalogue) is a 1912 study entitled Artvin. In 1965 Saryan presented it as a gift to a native of Artvin, Ya.N. Zarobyan, First Secretary to the Armenian Communist Party. Saryan was very fond of Zarobyan, who had done everything possible to have the genocide of Armenians recognised at State level and to create a memorial to the victims of 1915.
The undoubted historical and artistic value of Artvin and its significance as a museum piece are emphasised by an impeccable provenance and the fine quality of the painting.
We are grateful to Rouzan Saryan, Director of the Saryan House-Museum, for providing catalogue information.
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.