4 June 2014
Oil on canvas, 87 by 67 cm.
Provenance: Collection of Lyubov Rakhat, Odessa.
Collection of Augustina Vilen, daughter of the above, Stockholm, from 1938.
Thence by descent to the previous owner.
Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert V. Petrov.
Authenticity has also been confirmed by the experts S. Rimskaya-Korsakova, E. Nesterova, A. Bogdanov, A. Kiseleva and I. Geraschenko.
Nocturne by Konstantin Korovin is one of a series of nocturnes painted on the artist’s customary format of canvas in the late 1910s and early 1920s. Korovin named them Romance, At a Window, In a Room, In an Old House, Nocturne and so on. The many works from this time shown at Korovin’s jubilee exhibition in Moscow (December 1921–January 1922, Salon of K.I. Mikhailova) may have included this piece.
Korovin’s unnamed female subjects feature in his canvasses against a backdrop of the casement windows typical of the artist’s house at Okhotino, or in the house of his friends, the Vysheslavtsevs, at Ostrovno. The sparkling vases of artificial roses by candlelight and the barely noted soft shadows, seemingly shrouding the room, convey in the artist’s hands a poeticised feel of domestic comfort in winter. “The series of … semi-genre portraits in evening lighting against a background of dark golden wooden walls” wrote V. Rozhdestvensky, who witnessed the canvasses being painted, “put one in mind of the old Russian romances, with their warm intimate lyricism”. The musical structure of the nocturnes is emphasised by a special harmony of colour in which scarcely distinguishable shades and combinations of tints whisper a heart-warming melody. In the manner of one who disregards the niceties of drawing, the painter portrays objects in outlines that almost pulsate under a coloured cloak woven from spilt tone and shadows.
Korovin embodies the emotive poetry and spellbinding enigma of dusk in a captivating image that is seemingly a painterly allusion to lines by the artist’s favourite poet – A. Pushkin: “I love your strange gloom, And your secret colours”.
Nocturne is an expressive example of the artist’s creativity from the period of the early 1920s and the end of the previous decade, when Korovin’s nocturnes were a lyrical echo of the painter’s states of mind, varying from delight in conversation with friends to pensiveness in the evening.
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