26 November 2014 Russian Art Auctions

26 November 2014

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

A Street in the South of France

* 60. KOROVIN, KONSTANTIN (1861-1939)

A Street in the South of France, signed.

Oil on canvas, 49.5 by 59.5 cm.
120,000-150,000 GBP

Provenance: Russian Paintings and Works of Art, Christie’s New York, 18 April 2007, lot 110.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Private collection, USA.

Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert V. Petrov.

A Street in the South of France is from the cycle of brilliant, masterly pictures that Konstantin Korovin painted over a number of years on his trips to the sea. His contemporaries recall that he could interrupt a stroll at any corner or bring his driver to a halt with the words “Stop! I want to paint!” and then on the spot he would sketch a scene, which to those about him would appear unremarkable, but in Korovin’s hands would unexpectedly acquire integrity as a subject worth portraying.

In Korovin’s French and Crimean landscapes it becomes especially apparent that the painting is more important to the artist than the subject, and the fragmentary, sometimes incidental composition is only a pretext for creating a veritable poem of light and colour. A Street in the South of France is one of these impetuous works which preserve for us Korovin’s mastery of the painter’s art and the maxim that guided his creative effort: “more gladness, more brightness”.

The indistinct delineation of the street as it becomes lost in the distance evokes the sense that the artist has perceived the urban scene he depicts only fleetingly, as though glimpsed in passing, in an endless stream of his impressions of life. That said, the poetry of summer by the sea and the typical atmosphere of a French town are conveyed so well, that to glance at the canvas for the first time is involuntarily to recall the sultry breath of summer and the special scent of a baking hot street with that of parched foliage. This comes from the bright sunlight with its rosy hue of summer and the freshness of a deft, very light painterly touch, the joy of which is enhanced by the connection it expresses with the ambient atmosphere and light. Korovin is always sensitive to the decorativeness of what he paints, which comes through in the unifying supple rhythm of his brisk brushstrokes that stitch the dome of heaven as if it were quiltwork.

The colours he uses flow into one another to create a unity about the painted medium. The trim elegance of the image is combined with prosaic details the artist loved to paint (the ordinary little village houses and the lop-sided awning over a window in the foreground) which remove any appearance of a salon piece. What serves to harmonise the impression is light: the shining light of the sun casting coloured reflections off objects and dark blue and lilac-grey shadows. For Korovin “The South is painting’s sensual delight” remarked Sergei Durylin, a subtle researcher of the artist’s work, who admired the corporeal, tactile substance of Korovin’s landscapes that conveyed “almost the living body of the South”.

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.