2 December 2015
Boulogne, signed, inscribed ''Boulogne'' and dated 1935.
Oil on canvas, 50.5 by 61 cm.
Provenance: Private collection, Italy, until the late 1990s.
Private collection, Croatia.
Boulogne belongs to a cycle of vibrant, superbly executed paintings that Konstantin Korovin painted over a number of years on his trips to the seaside. His contemporaries recalled that he would randomly interrupt a stroll, or bring his driver to a halt, exclaiming: “Stop! I want to paint!” Then, Korovin would make an impromptu sketch, transforming a seemingly unremarkable scene into a lovely landscape, with all the elements coherently organised into an integral composition.
In Korovin’s French and Crimean landscapes it becomes especially apparent that the process of painting was 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. Boulogne is one of these spontaneous works, which showcase Korovin’s consummate skills and the main principle that guided his artistic pursuits: “More pleasure, more brightness”.
The atmosphere of a summer day in a seaside town is conveyed so expertly that the first glance at the canvas evokes the hot summer air and conjures up that special, sharp scent of a sunscorched street, mixed with the smell of leaves on the trees lining it. The scene exudes serene happiness, bathed in the seaside sun. This happiness is expressed by the bright light of the sun, with its rosy hue, so typical of summertime; and also by the gentle, vivacious manner of painting.
Korovin was unfailingly sensitive to the decorative aspect of the scenes he depicted. This comes through in the graceful rhythm unifying the short brushstrokes that make up the space of the street and the sky. However, it is the light that creates the picture’s sense of wholeness: the shining light of the sun casting coloured reflections off the objects, as well as dark-blue and lilac-grey shadows.
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.