30 November 2016
Into the Blizzard, signed and dated 1873.
Oil on canvas, 124.5 by 195.5 cm.
Provenance: Private collection, Europe, from c. 1950s.
Acquired from the above by the previous owner.
Private collection, Europe.
Russian Art, Sotheby’s New York, 15 April 2008, lot 30.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Private collection, UK.
Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert V. Petrov.
In the important, large-scale canvas, Into the Blizzard, Nikolai Sverchkov turns to his recurring theme of a group of men traversing a bitter landscapeas they return home from a long day of physical labour or hunting. In an unforgiving Russian winter, the blizzard rages all around the travellers as they plunge headlong into the storm determined to get home. The physical effort of the horses can be seen in their visibly straining muscles and the steep angle of their legs. Both the men and the horses have their heads turned away from the icy wind which has whipped up all around them and is biting through their winter furs.
The snow has completely obscured any recognisable features of the landscape that might help the group to navigate their way, adding to the sense of drama and danger. The only other visible features are another small group with a troika in the distance and the roofs of a small settlement which can just be made out behind them. The other troika adds a point of interest and contrast to the composition for they appear to be waiting the storm out with their backs turned against it for shelter, whereas the group in the foreground are struggling on through.
Sverchkov knew this world he was depicting well. He travelled the length and breadth of the country accepting commissions from horse breeders and the nobility, and was very familiar with the landscape, the people and the harsh realities of daily life in the provinces. Into the Blizzard is a wonderful illustration of this artist’s particular talent for combining genre scenes of rural Russian life with the detailed equine studies for which he is so rightly famed.
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.