27 November 2013
Stilll Life With Vegetables .
Oil on board, 42 by 55 cm.
Executed in the late 1930s or early 1940s.
Provenance: A gift from Maria Ivanovna Mashkova, the artist's widow, to the prominent Soviet artist Dementy Shmarinov (1909–1999).
Thence by descent.
Collection of Alexei Shmarinov, son of the above, Moscow.
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner.
Private collection, Europe.
Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert Yu. Rybakova.
The present lot belongs to the series of still lifes which Ilya Mashkov painted at the village of Abramtsevo, where he lived – hardly leaving the place – from the latter half of the 1930s right up until his death in 1944. Still Life with Vegetables is a kind of quintessence of the creative issues and world view that the artist was resolving during his Abramtsevo period, which makes this work stand out among the others he painted over these years, of which there were around seventy.
This picture points particularly to a new understanding by the artist of the essence of its genre as the silent life of things: it is no surprise that the series it belongs to is associated with the Dutch tradition. The avant-garde still lifes of the 1910s and 1920s had been imposing, garish, and intentionally coarse and festive. When Mashkov put all this behind him, he turned again to real life, to the essential character of objects and nature morte. In Still Life with Vegetables the images are without stridency but nonetheless retain a full-bloodedness and festiveness in the impression they create. He uses highlights of small transparent brushstrokes to reproduce with illusory precision the shine on the sides of the little pumpkin, the cucumber and the jar next to them. At the same time the radishes, bread and drapery backdrop are painted freely in an agile variety of light, broad strokes. The exquisite modelling of colour present in every detail of the work does not drown but, rather, emphasises the feeling it has of a healthy, robust, full-blooded beginning – the basis of the idea of beauty in the popular imagination. Mashkov painted on plywood, which was highly unusual for a master artist. The lively texture of the plywood seen through the layer of paint reinforces the feeling of ‘rusticity’, raw power and unaffected naturalness about the work.
The history of the work offered here is also worthy of note. Some time after Mashkov’s death the house he so loved in Abramtsevo was acquired by the family of the legendary Soviet book illustrator Dementy Shmarinov. The Shmarinovs were on close terms with the artist’s widow Maria Mashkova-Danilova, who presented Still Life with Vegetables to them as a gift.
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.