2 December 2015
Pond at Kuskovo, signed, inscribed in Cyrillic “Kuskovo” and dated “1915 g./Avgust”.
Oil on cardboard, laid on canvas, 66 by 88 cm.
Provenance: Important private collection, USA, from the 1980s.
Thence by descent.
Russian Art, Sotheby’s New York, 15 April 2008, lot 58.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the experts V. Kruglov, G. Krechina and S. Rimskaya-Korsakova.
Konstantin Korovin, perhaps the most distinguished and talented Russian Impressionist, is represented in this catalogue by his notable canvas Pond at Kuskovo. The artist was unrivalled in his ability to authentically convey the “captured moment”, the fleeting state of nature and a vibrant colour harmony. By masterly observation of colour changing with the light, Korovin achieved an astonishing perceptive integrity. The work before us is from the artist’s best creative period, a genuine flourishing which gave Russian art at the turn of the last century the indispensable term “a Korovin impression”. The well-known Soviet art critic Dora Kogan wrote: “New changes can be seen in the artist’s system of using colour. He almost rejects subtle tonal development and gradual transitions. The very structure of his painting and the way he organises colour composition...becomes more simplified. His actual manner of painting also changes. The paint becomes thicker and juicier, and the brushwork even bolder. But the perfectly harmonious arrangement of colours, the internal balance of compositional elements, as well as the texture of the painting impart a consistency that endows the image not only with decorative visual resonance, but also with exceptional sensual power and a tense, full-blooded inner liveliness that persuade us it is true.”
Pond at Kuskovo is evidence of a towering mastery of plein air painting. In these years, the artist – even when painting large canvasses – worked only from nature, whether a scorching day on the Black Sea or a frosty winter’s day in Okhotino. Pond at Kuskovo was painted in one go, as is clearly seen. The artist has imbued the still, pulsating heat of a summer’s evening in central Russia with calm, and the quietly poetic, subtly alluring spirit of nature does not herald the social cataclysms to come. The complex emerald and grey-blue colouration is livened up a little by the crimson speck of a figure fishing – the master’s personal calling card. Korovin’s distinctive, sacred contribution was to insert this kind of touch as if by chance, not as a gimmick, but for a living soul to be present. The phenomenon of his fine and elusive artistry is particularly apparent in his understated works that are so conducive to philosophical contemplation and a singular, meditative “immersion”. This frequently prompts a rather different, sensorily-sharpened, aesthetic perception in oneself.
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.