26 November 2014
Portrait of the Professor of Medicine Ernest Gize, signed and dated 1914.
Oil on canvas, 80 by 62 cm.
Provenance: A gift from the artist to his doctor, a neurologist Ernest Gize (1871–1941), Petrograd, in 1914 (inscription on the reverse).
Thence by descent.
Private collection, Europe.
Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by an art historian Marietta Gize (1914–2011), the sitter’s daughter (inscription on the reverse).
Authenticity certificate from the expert T. Zelyukina.
Exhibited: Personal’naya vystavka proizvedenii B.M. Kustodieva, Dom iskusstv, Petrograd, 1920, No. 160.
Posmertnaya vystavka proizvedenii B.M. Kustodieva. 1878–1927, The State Russian Museum, Leningrad, 1928, No. 102 (inscription on the stretcher). Vystavka proizvedenii B.M. Kustodieva. 1878–1927, The State Russian Museum, Leningrad, 1959.
Vystavka proizvedenii B.M. Kustodieva. 1878–1927, Academy of Fine Arts of the USSR, Moscow, 1960.
Literature: V. Voinov, F. Notgaft, “Spisok proizvedenii B.M. Kustodieva”, in V. Voinov, B.M. Kustodiev, Leningrad, Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo, 1925, p. 83, listed under works from 1914.
Exhibition catalogue, Katalog posmertnoi vystavki proizvedenii B.M. Kustodieva. 1878–1927, Leningrad, The State Russian Museum, 1928, p. 22, No. 102, listed.
Exhibition catalogue, Vystavka proizvedenii B.M. Kustodieva. 1878–1927, Leningrad, The State Russian Museum, 1959, p. 33, listed.
Exhibition catalogue, Vystavka proizvedenii B.M. Kustodieva. 1878–1927, Moscow, Academy of Fine Arts of the USSR, 1960, p. 43, listed.
M. Etkind, Boris Mikhailovich Kustodiev, Leningrad-Moscow, Iskusstvo, 1960, p. 197, listed.
Boris Mikhailovich Kustodiev. Pis’ma…, Leningrad, Khudozhnik RSFSR, 1967, p. 318, mentioned in the text.
M. Etkind, Boris Mikhailovich Kustodiev, Moscow, Sovetskii khudozhnik, 1982, p. 160, No. 378, listed.
Boris Kustodiev, one of the most talented pupils of Ilya Repin, is best known amongst the general public as the painter of folk festivities. His merchants’ wives and coachmen are all familiar to Russians from illustrations in school books. However, Kustodiev, as the Portraitist portraitist has unjustly been relegated to the province of specialist knowledge. Nevertheless, he was the author of many a brilliant portrait of his contemporaries, works noted not so much for their faithful resemblance to the sitters’ physiological features, as for their psychological insight. In 1899, while Kustodiev was still at the Academy of Arts, he painted a self-portrait that left a profound impression on his colleagues because of its depth and technical excellence, which far surpassed that expected of a student.
Kustodiev, who had been drawn to portraiture since his student days, had a unique chance to try his hand at it when, together with his fellow student Ivan Kulikov, he assisted Repin on the execution of his masterpiece, the epic The Session of the State Senate. Repin, having recognised Kustodiev to be a gifted portraitist, was quick to engage him as his assistant.
The work offered here for auction belongs to the artist’s best period. In the 1910s, Kustodiev honed his skill in various media – pencil, pastel, oil and lithography – and created his best genre works and portraits, whilst also working in book illustration. An active member of the legendary World of Art movement, Kustodiev developed his instantly recognisable trademark style, characterised by its thick, flowing brushstrokes, which lent his works a somewhat solemn and stately air.
The present portrait exhibits all these features. The sitter is the Professor of Medicine, Dr Ernest Gize, who was the artist’s physician. Kustodiev met him in 1909, when he started having back problems. Grateful for the treatment he received, the artist painted this portrait in the spring of 1914. It is a masterfully executed painting, featuring a well-known and highly respected St Petersburg physician and notable for its virtuoso painterly fluidity, austere yet striking composition and elegant palette. It is very likely that the portrait was painted in just one sitting. In 1914, the year he painted it, Kustodiev gave it to Dr Gize as a gift upon the birth of his daughter, Marietta. The portrait stayed with Marietta Gize until her death in 2011.
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.