26 November 2014 Russian Art Auctions

26 November 2014

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

The Idyll

* 34. SEMIRADSKY, GENRIKH (1843-1902)

The Idyll, signed.

Oil on canvas, 66 by 114.5 cm.
500,000-700,000 GBP

Executed in the late 1880s–early 1890s.

Provenance: Collection of Wojciech and Ewa Fibak, New York.
Collection of Michael Legutko of the Lippert Gallery, New York.
Collection of Barbara Piasecka Johnson, New Jersey.
Art for Autism at Jasna Polana, Christie’s/TPC, Princeton, New Jersey, 22 September 2000, lot 16.

Acquired at the above sale by the previous owner.
Authenticity certificate from the expert T. Goryacheva.

Related literature: For another version of the present lot, see S. Lewandowski, Henryk Siemiradzki, Warsaw-Krakow, Nakł. i własność Gebethnera i Wolffa, 1904, p. 100, illustrated.
T. Karpova, Genrikh Semiradsky, St Petersburg, Zolotoi vek, 2008, p. 142, illustrated.

Genrikh Semiradsky’s work The Idyll offered here for auction was painted in the late 1880s–early 1890s. This period can be considered as the peak of the famous artist’s creative life. The precision of the compositional arrangement, the exquisite palette and the focus on conveying the air and light are the features of the artist’s painting. His works, depicting scenes from the antiquity, become more intimate and romantic, characterised by a more humane, idyllic rendering of their protagonists. During this period, the master created his well-known masterpieces By the Spring (late 1880s), Christ and Samaritan Woman (1890), Talisman (early 1890s), and Roman Woman (early 1890s).

The present lot is an eponymous version of the painting, executed by Semiradsky in 1895. The artist frequently repeated his most successful compositions, which the public loved. As a rule, he modified the composition and changed the landscape. New elements enriched familiar works, lending value to the author’s replications.

The Idyll offered here for the auction contains some important differences in the way the artist treats the landscape in the background and in some secondary elements, such as the marble relief and the mosaic decorating the swimming pool. Some decorative patterns on the protagonists’ robes have also been slightly modified, as well as the arrangement of the flowers on the foreground. The work exhibits all characteristic traits of Semiradsky’s style, based primarily on the conveying of the interplay between the light and the shadow. Bright sunbeams enliven the whole composition, emphasising the vitality of the luscious Southern nature, the heat of the summer midday, and the coolness of the pool. A Roman family by the spring, framed by the marble border, are enjoying their leisure. The parents are engaged in an unhurried conversation with their little son. This idyllic family scene is very typical for salon art of the last quarter of the 19th century, which largely rejected realistic interpretations of historical events and mundane dramatic conflicts so beloved by the Itinerants. Pursuit of beauty, bliss and romantic love are the main components of the Russian and European genre painting of the 1880s and 1890s. Particular focus on the “draughtsmanship” of the art ensured the unrivalled mastery of salon artists, securing them a wide recognition and presence in the largest museums and private collections.

The Idyll, as one of Semiradsky’s masterpieces, is worthy of a place in a most distinguished collection.

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.