27 November 2013
Venice, signed, titled in Cyrillic and dated 1913 on the reverse.
Oil on canvas, 69 by 87.5 cm
Provenance: Collection of L.M. Mandelshtam, Leningrad, in the 1960s–1970s.
Letter confirming receipt of the painting for the Kustodiev exhibition from the above by the Research Museum of the Academy of Arts of the USSR, Leningrad, 1968.
Private collection, Europe.
Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the experts V. Kruglov and G. Krechina.
Authenticity has also been confirmed by the expert O. Atroshchenko.
Exhibited: Vystavka proizvedenii Borisa Mikhailovicha Kustodieva 1878–1927, the Research Museum of the Academy of Arts of the USSR, Leningrad, June–October 1968, No. 884 (label on the reverse).
Literature: Exhibition catalogue, Vystavka proizvedenii Borisa Mikhailovicha Kustodieva 1878–1927, Moscow, Iskusstvo, 1969, p. 17, listed under works from 1913.
Boris Kustodiev, represented here by his canvas Venice, is known to the world primarily as a bard of the Russian provinces who entered the history of art with his vibrant, lush pictures, full of life, depicting the way of life of the merchant class. Like his World of Art colleagues – Alexander Benois, Léon Bakst, Konstantin Korovin and many others – Kustodiev actively experimented with genres and technique throughout his creative life and showed himself to be, among other things, an incredibly expressive and fine landscape painter.
Over the centuries, and not least at the beginning of the 20th century, Venice represented an inexhaustible source of inspiration for artists. Everything in the city, the colours of Italy basking in romantic serenity, its unique location, the opportunity it offered of seeing the greatest art and architecture first hand, drew the creative elite of that time to Venice. Kustodiev too was captivated by Venice, and painted the city on three separate occasions – first in 1907, then in 1913 and later, in 1918 – by then from memory.
In Venice, Kustodiev chose to depict one of the most beautiful prospects in the city: the view of the Cathedral of Santa Maria della Salute and the church of San Giorgio Maggiore at the confluence of the Grand Canal and the Giudecca from the Schiavone embankment. The canvas is marked out by the distinctly modernist manner in which it is painted, with bold, loose, often rather elongated vertical brushstrokes suggesting movement in the water. The emotional power and virtuoso execution are evident above all in the skilful rendition of the effects of light: the sparks in the sky over the roofs and spires of the stately Venetian buildings in the background, the beams of floodlights brightening the night sky, the gleaming Chinese lanterns on the boats and the lit embankments on either side of the canal.
The present lot is notable also for its exhibition history. In 1968 Venice was shown in the major exhibition of Boris Kustodiev’s work held at the Museum of the Academy of Arts in Leningrad, a fact which is documented in the catalogue issued a year later by the Moscow publishing house Iskusstvo.
Notes on symbols:
* Indicates 5% Import Duty Charge applies.
Ω Indicates 20% Import Duty Charge applies.
§ Indicates Artist's Resale Right applies.
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