26 November 2014
The Belfry and Cupola of the Uspensky Cathedral of the Pskovo-Pechersky Monastery, signed and dated 1928.
Oil on canvas, 91.5 by 73.5 cm.
Provenance: Collection of The Winter Palace gallery, London (label on the stretcher).
Russian Art, Paintings, Sotheby’s London, 27 November 2007, lot 167.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Private collection, UK.
Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert V. Petrov.
Literature: V. Sinaisky, Pskovo-Pecheskiy monastyr’, Riga, Tipografiya Aktsionernogo obshchestva “Ritm”, 1929, illustrated.
N. Lapidus, Sergei Vinogradov, Moscow, Belyi gorod, 2005, p. 45, illustrated.
N. Lapidus, Sergei Vinogradov, St Petersburg, Zolotoi vek, 2010, No. 206, illustrated; p. 486, listed.
The Belfry and Cupola of the Uspensky Cathedral of the Pskovo-Pechersky Monastery is one of an acclaimed series of paintings from 1928–1929 by Sergei Vinogradov, depicting the ancient Uspensky Cathedral of the Pskovo-Pechersky Monastery.
The theme of tranquil monastic life against a background of ancient and majestic church architecture had always exercised a strong appeal for the artist. Several works from earlier in Vinogradov’s career are devoted to pilgrims at Orthodox shrines: At the Chapel (1893), Beggars by the Church Wall (1899), and In the Monastery Cell (1916). After the revolution, travelling to America where he was taking part in an exhibition of young Soviet art, the artist took views of monasteries with him. One of these pictures, The Marfo-Mariinsky Convent (1922), was bought by the composer Sergei Rachmaninoff.
Coming back from America in 1924, Vinogradov settled in Riga, where he met the distinguished professor of law, Vasily Sinaisky. In the summer of 1928, Vinogradov and Sinaisky made a painting trip to the Pskovo-Pechersky Monastery, which, under the demarcation settlement between Estonia and Soviet Russia in 1922, was placed on the western side of the border, saving it from closure and ruin.
For two summers, in 1928 and 1929, Vinogradov and Sinaisky worked on a book-album devoted to the Monastery, which contained reproductions of Vinogradov’s paintings, including The Belfry and Cupola of the Uspensky Cathedral, which is presented for auction. The book, published in Riga in 1929, was very well received and became highly prized in bibliographical circles, winning great acclaim for its authors. The themes of the book were much in evidence at Vinogradov’s personal exhibition of 1935, where, according to one review, “the pictures of the Pskovo-Pechersky Monastery are most harmonious”.
Vinogradov painted the Cathedral several times, seeking out different viewpoints, but the picture offered for auction is undoubtedly his best version. The thread of time, reaching back down the centuries, is apparent amid the bright summer’s day and the passing clouds. The viewers’ gaze travels from the ancient white-stone bell tower, built in the 16th century, past the vestry and the green copper rooves and porches, upwards to the bright orange walls of the Cathedral with its resplendent blue domes, the brilliant gold of the crosses against the sky, and then to the sky itself. Vinogradov wrote of his work at the Pskovo-Pechersky Monastery: “I always had a wonderful feeling upon entering the Monastery – all of the modern world, all todays fall away and the soul is filled with delight and awe.”
A postcard with a reproduction of the painting has been preserved, bearing an inscription in the hand of the artist’s wife: “I sold this picture by my husband in London”. Hence, presumably, its origin from London’s The Winter Palace gallery.
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.