3 June 2015
Farm with Lambs, signed, further titled in Cyrillic and numbered “N 18” on the reverse.
Oil on canvas, 52.5 by 72.5 cm.
Executed in the 1920s.
Provenance: Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary Art, Christie’s New York, 8 October 1992, lot 23.
The Russian Sale, Sotheby’s London, 31 May 2006, lot 153.
Private collection, Europe.
Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert Yu. Rybakova.
Boris Grigoriev painted Farm with Lambs on one of his trips through Normandy and Brittany in the 1920s. Successful and well-off for commissions, the artist had been able to allow himself the freedom to travel around Europe and America from practically his first years as an émigré. Nevertheless, throughout the first half of the 1920s, he would head off every year to picturesque places deep in Northern France. Normandy and Brittany still had their traditional, agricultural way of life and the distinctive local colour, costumes, severe landscape, and the simple day-to-day life of the peasants and fishermen, unchanged for centuries, attracted artists from many different countries.
Grigoriev was renowned in Paris as the artist who had managed to capture the Russian Soul, the genuine face of the peasantry. This encouraged him to search in the culture of the West for similar distinctive and local “folk” peculiarities. This is why in Grigoriev’s Normandy and Breton cycles, there are so many farming scenes and depictions of peasants, country women in white bonnets, rustic holidays and the daily life of fishermen.
This is the kind of peaceful scene of provincial life that we see in Farm with Lambs too. The centre ground of the composition, beyond the green pasture grazed by a flock of sheep, is taken up by a panorama of a coastal village: little houses huddled together, a narrow street and a lean-to cowshed where a milkmaid is milking a cow. At the same time, a certain “nakedness” of the geometrical form, restraint in the ochreous greens of the palette and the emphasised outlines of the shapes – all distinct features of Grigoriev’s expressive manner of the 1920s – reveal a clear Neoclassical structure, as well as an influence from contemporary French painting.
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.