4 June 2014 Russian Art Auctions

4 June 2014

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

Still Life with Magnolias

*§ 74. GONCHAROVA, NATALIA (1881-1962)

Still Life with Magnolias, signed, also further signed on the reverse.

Oil on canvas, 85 by 45 cm.
400,000-600,000 GBP

Provenance: Leonard Clayton Gallery, New York, before 1977 (label on the stretcher).

Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert I. Vakar.

Still Life with Magnolias belongs to a series of pictures that Natalia Goncharova was working on in the late 1920s and 1930s. Stylisation, geometrical rendering of form, and decorative conventionality of manner are typical of her output at a time when she was beginning to work more and more from life, moving away from her early avant-garde experiments. Developing new combinations of form and colour unfailingly led the artist in the direction of “life itself ”, to which she was drawn, in her own words, by “unconscious instinct”. The decorativeness and sculptural form of magnolia blossom could never fail to move Goncharova, whose life was forever intertwined with the grand spectacle of Russian opera and ballet. She painted magnolias in all their various forms – cut or flowering on the tree; pink and white or different colours; in jugs, cups, vases or simply resting on a table. The magnolia motif was not confined to her still lifes but served as a decorative background to her Espagnole compositions: in 1939 Goncharova put on an exhibition in Paris entitled Espagnoles – Magnolia. The State Tretyakov Gallery has a number of her works from this period, including Pink Magnolia and Espagnole with Folded Fan.

The tender beauty of the spring bouquet is rendered marvellously in Goncharova’s harmonious palette, and the living force of nature awakening from winter is evoked by the rhythmic juxtaposition of elements contrasting in shape and texture: heavy blooms of magnolia, sculpted in relief, then dainty clusters of frothing cherry blossom. The stiff dark twigs provide a strong framework to the composition and though the painting is rather elongated – common for Goncharova’s canvasses of this time – any oppressiveness is relieved by the translucence of the jug. Her expressive style, devotion to working from life and undoubted gift for decoration are fully reflected in the present lot, which is undoubtedly one of the finest still lifes from Goncharova’s brush in her mature period.

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.