27 November 2013
Garden in Bloom, signed, also further signed and titled "Le Mur fleuri" on the reverse.
Oil on canvas, 65 by 93 cm.
Provenance: Private collection, Hamburg.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert V. Petrov.
Exhibited: Exhibition of Russian Art. Paintings by prof. Constantin Makowsky and others, Spring Gardens Gallery, London, 1926.
Garden in Bloom by Konstantin Makovsky perfectly demonstrates the talent of this eminent artist, whose gift is both richer and broader than might be suggested by his frequent categorization as a portrait painter and illustrator of scenes from boyar life. “Russian style” is a tag that fails to do justice to Makovsky’s creative range as an artist of European scale. His many distinctions included the Legion d’honneur, awarded by the French government, and the right to exhibit his works at the Paris Salon outside the jury system.
Makovsky showed himself to excellent effect in the landscape genre, where his focus on plants and flowers adds a strong decorative element (these works are sometimes described as living natures mortes). The freedom of Makovsky’s painting testifies to an excellent grasp of contemporary French art. The artist’s son Sergei Makovsky, a well-known art critic of Russia’s Silver Age, recalled the special affection, with which his father spoke of the Impressionists: “Such vivid colours, such air and light in their nonchalantly painted canvasses!”
Trips to Kachanovka, the Tarnovksy family estate in Ukraine, played a special role in Makovsky’s development as a landscape painter. The artist and his family were frequent summer visitors there during the 1880s. Sergei Makovsky recalled: “Every morning my father would go off into the park and paint some part of it in oil or watercolour.” The artist’s subjects, according to his son’s recollections, included: “hollyhocks growing along fences and among overgrown ruins, which may have been the remains of a Cossack fortress or follies built by Count Rumyantsev, erstwhile owner of Kachanovka.” These landscapes were then used as preparatory material for several of Makovsky’s monumental canvasses, including Bacchanalia(1891), which he worked on in Paris.
The present lot appears to have been kept by Makovsky’s descendants and taken out of Russia in 1926, with other works, by the family of his eldest daughter, Olga (from the artist’s marriage to M.A. Matavtina-Makovskaya). Olga’s husband, Sergei Agababov, also an artist, was entrusted with organizing an exhibition of his father-in-law’s artwork in the United States, where, as Olga wrote to the Soviet Special Committee for Organization of Overseas Exhibitions, “my late father was popular, so his works certainly can and should have much success on the art market.” The list of works owned by the family includes several grouped under the title Flowers for the “Bacchanalia”.
In 1926 the painting Garden in Bloom was shown at an exhibition in London’s Spring Gardens Gallery together with other important paintings by the artist. Makovsky was the best represented at the exhibition, but works by several other Russian masters were also on show, including Vladimir Orlovsky, Franz Roubaud, Nikolai Fechin, Nikolai Dubovsky, Rudolf Frentz, Andrei Shilder and Nikolai Samokish amongst others.
We are grateful to Dr Elena Nesterova, art historian and author of a monograph on K. Makovsky for providing additional 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.