25 ноября 2012
The First Step, signed and dated 1932, also further signed, numbered “1040” and dated on the reverse.
Oil on canvas, 97.5 by 103.5 cm.
Provenance: Private collection, Europe.
Authenticity certificate from the expert T. Ermakova.
Exhibited: 8th Exhibition of Works by P.P. Konchalovsky, Moscow, 1933.
10th Exhibition of Works by P.P. Konchalovsky, Moscow–Leningrad, 1941.
14th Exhibition of Works by P.P. Konchalovsky, Moscow, 1947.
15th Exhibition of Works by P.P. Konchalovsky, Moscow, 1951.
16th and 17th Exhibitions of Works by P.P. Konchalovsky, Moscow–Leningrad, 1956.
Literature: Konchalovsky. Khudozhestvennoe nasledie, Moscow, Iskusstvo, 1964, p. 130, listed as “zhi 842”.
The First Step is among the earliest portraits of Petr Konchalovsky’s granddaughter Katya. No sooner had she moved into the artist’s house in 1932, little Katenka immediately became the favourite model of her famous grandfather – one need only recall the entire gallery of touching portraits of his granddaughter beginning with two portraits of her asleep, on her right side and her left, and continuing right up until the artist’s death. Thus we see her when still a tiny little girl in the arms of her nanny (Katenka as a Babe in Arms, 1932); or full of charm and elegance in a neat dress as she holds on to a chair, looking askance at the artist with her wide grey eyes (Katenka by a Chair, 1932); or bravely holding a big dog in the doorway to the dacha at Bugry (Katenka with a Dog, 1934); or playing seriously with a dollop of buckwheat in a little bowl (Katenka with Cereal, 1933); or getting ready to fetch water, with two huge baskets and a toy cow on a lead (Fetching Water, 1934); or making music with mama at the grand piano (At the Piano, 1935) or examining a doll with a child’s wrapt curiosity, sitting at a table by the window (Green Curtains, 1935).
But even against the background of these paintings, with their immediacy and expressiveness, The First Step stands out for its absence of superfluous detail and the seemingly natural, uncontrived composition which preserves the freshness of a first impression. Everything of secondary significance is discarded. The palette is consciously limited in terms of hue. The colour is built not on a variety of hues but on the quest for a strict tonal structure based on the dignified gradations of her mother Natalya Petrovna’s dark dress and Katenka’s bright dress.
Konchalovsky had an especially expressive way of conveying light, as it pours in a silver stream from a window unseen by the viewer and fills the room. Without it the restrained palette of the emerald and silvery grey background would be insipid and monotonous, but the bursts of light and merry splashes of green scattered over the dress make all the colours sing with a special intensity, resonance and richness. The picture is painted with free, confident brushwork in wide, artistic strokes of thick paint, but at the same time the whole scene has the feeling of a well considered composition, which is a distinctive quality in the artist’s work of this period.
The artist’s inspiration is born out of the simple desire to flood the canvas with the joy he felt at the love of his daughter and granddaughter, and his tender admiration for the persistence with which a little person masters a world that is new to her. The result is that the artist creates a picture full of optimism and parental love, light and freshness, testifying to the joy of a child’s world, and perceived by contemporaries who saw the canvas in more than one exhibition as a universal image of happy childhood.
Примечания к символам:
* Указывает, что применяется импортная пошлина в размере 5%.
Ω Указывает, что применяется импортная пошлина в размере 20%.
§ Указывает на то, что применяется право на перепродажу художников.
† Указывает на то, что применяется стандартная схема НДС, и