5 June 2013 Russian Art Auctions

5 June 2013

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

Taras Bulba.

105. GERASIMOV, ALEXANDER (1881-1963)

Taras Bulba.

Tempera on canvas, 120 by 150 cm.
120,000–180,000 GBP

Provenance: Collection of the artist’s family, Moscow.
Galleria Marco Datrino, Italy.
Private collection, Europe.

Exhibited: Arte Sovietica, dal regime alla perestrojka 1930–1985, Galleria Marco Datrino, Torre Canovese, 1992.
Ot realizma k iskusstvu, Pushkin House, London, June 2008.
Stalin’s Velázquez. Aleksandr Gerasimov and the Alchemy of Power, Leonid Shishkin Gallery, London, 1 November–5 December 2012.

Literature: Exhibition catalogue, Arte Sovietica, dal regime alla perestrojka 1930–1985, Torre Canovese, Galleria Marco Datrino, 1992, p. 32, No. 26, illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Ot realizma k iskusstvu, London, Pushkin House, 2008, p. 16, illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Stalin’s Velázquez. Aleksandr Gerasimov and the Alchemy of Power, London, Leonid Shishkin Gallery, 2012, illustrated.

Related Literature: For another version of the present lot, see A. Skvortsov, A.M. Gerasimov, Moscow–Leningrad, Iskusstvo, 1947, illustrated on the cover.
N. Gogol, Taras Bulba, Moscow, Gosizdat, 1955, illustrated.
I. Blyanova, V. Shabelnikov, Aleksandr Gerasimov, Moscow, Izobrazitel’noe iskusstvo, 1988, pl. 143, illustrated.

The canvas Taras Bulba is the result of Aleksandr Gerasmiov’s long held fascination with Gogol’s eponymous novel which culminated in the artist illustrating the 1950s edition. Gerasimov devoted equal attention to all the aspects of the design, producing not only the larger watercolour illustrations, but also the tail-pieces, head-pieces and other smaller elements. The scenes he chose to depict are largely dynamic crowd scenes populated with Gogol’s vivid character types. He often repeated the subjects of his illustrations in large canvasses, as is the case with the present lot, which is a variation of a watercolour now in the collection of the Donetsk Regional Art Museum entitled Stop! The Snuff-Box has Fallen!

In the present lot, Gerasimov unusually employs tempera, achieving a matte, antiquated effect appropriate for the depiction of a historic battle scene. The rapid, broad brushstrokes, the sketchily-painted grass and charging riders in the background generate the effect of intense action. However, the figure of Taras Bulba, who has come screeching to a halt, his arm raised signalling for his convoy to stop, takes centre stage. The high drama of the scene is created by this sudden interruption to the action, the cause of which is the loss of the snuff-box, as suggested by the title of the watercolour version of the present work.

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.