marshes in the evening

Isaac Ilich Levitan, 1860-1900

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Isaac Ilich Levitan, 1860-1900 marshes in the evening signed l.r. and dated 1882 oil on canvas 137.5 by 71.5cm., Provenance: The House of Bolin, Moscow Exhibited: 5th Students'Exhibition of the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, Moscow, December 25th1882-January 1883, No49 (see A. Fiodorov-Davydov, Levitan, Leningrad, 1981, p.211) Published: Glagol and Grabar, Isaac Ilich Levitan, Moscow, 1912, p.22 Marshes in the Evening is the most important painting by Levitan ever to be offered at auction. Perhaps of more significance for scholarship on the artist is its rediscovery. it was first recorded in 1912 by Glagol and Grabar in one of the first monographs on the artist, illustrated in black and white. Since then it is mentioned in later literature but never illustrated, having been kept from view in a private collection in the West. In Alexei Fiodorov-Davydov's book on the artist in the mid 1960s, he describes the painting as being in good condition, and comments on its closeness in style to the work of Alexei Savrasov. This would suggest that he saw the painting then, but it also raises the question of why it was not illustrated or described in greater detail (see A. Fiodorov-Davydov, Isaac Ilitch Levitan, Zhyzn I Tvorchestvo, Moscow, 1966, p.20). The work is recorded as having been first exhibited at the 5th Students' Exhibition of the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. Levitan was only 22 years old when he painted it, shortly after his graduation from the school. Here he studied under the landscapist Alexei Savrasov, who strongly influenced by the Barbizon School, notably introduced the practice of en plein air painting in Russia. He was one of the first significant Russian painters to be inspired by the beauty and expressive potential of his native land, rather than the sunny groves of Italy. Vladimir Petrov remarks on the indebtedness of Levitan to Savrasov: Among the works painted by Levitan in the early 1880s, there are also studies and paintings where the orientation is towards the achievements of A.K.Savrasov (for example "Marshes in the Evening", 1882, present whereabouts unknown...) (see V.Petrov, Levitan, St Petersburg, 1993, p.24) It is arguably in the work of Levitan that Russian landscape painting reaches its most lyrical. He diminishes the importance of narrative elements in his paintings in order to achieve a simple, direct mood. In Marshes in the Evening, the prevalant atmosphere is one of desolation and decay in a marshy wasteland with its poignantly felled tree and small clumps of reed bursting forth from the hostile land. On one level, the painting can be appreciated as an achievement in transforming a landscape bereft of such catchy visual charms as ancient ruins, rivers, peasant folk, rural homes into a work of enduring beauty. On another level, however, one could read the clear divide between the rather dark emptiness of the land and the bright optimism of the sky as a promise of human salvation. On whatever level one chooses to understand the painting, it is unmistakably Russian, creating a clear sense of the vastness of a country stretching from Europe to the Sea of Japan. The painting has an impeccable provenance, belonging to the Bolin family of Jewellers for most of the 20th century. The Bolin firm was founded in St. Petersburg in 1796. Based on the Nevsky Prospekt, under the directorship of Carl Edward Bolin, produced high quality jewellery which in the 1870s earned them an Imperial Warrant. The Moscow branch (who acquired the painting) was founded later, in 1852, by a cousin, Henrik Conrad, and specialised in silverware. After the Bolshevik revolution in 1917, both branches were closed down. By this time, however, the firm had already established a successful branch in Stockholm which still exists today, and which is the only company still to be trading with an Imperial Warrant. Isaac Ilich Levitan, 1860-1900 marshes in the evening signed l.r. and dated 1882 oil on canvas 137.5 by 71.5cm., Provenance: The House of Bolin, Moscow Exhibited: 5th Students'Exhibition of the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, Moscow, December 25th1882-January 1883, No49 (see A. Fiodorov-Davydov, Levitan, Leningrad, 1981, p.211) Published: Glagol and Grabar, Isaac Ilich Levitan, Moscow, 1912, p.22 Marshes in the Evening is the most important painting by Levitan ever to be offered at auction. Perhaps of more significance for scholarship on the artist is its rediscovery. it was first recorded in 1912 by Glagol and Grabar in one of the first monographs on the artist, illustrated in black and white. Since then it is mentioned in later literature but never illustrated, having been kept from view in a private collection in the West. In Alexei Fiodorov-Davydov's book on the artist in the mid 1960s, he describes the painting as being in good condition, and comments on its closeness in style to the work of Alexei Savrasov. This would suggest that he saw the painting then, but it also raises the question of why it was not illustrated or described in greater detail (see A. Fiodorov-Davydov, Isaac Ilitch Levitan, Zhyzn I Tvorchestvo, Moscow, 1966, p.20). The work is recorded as having been first exhibited at the 5th Students' Exhibition of the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. Levitan was only 22 years old when he painted it, shortly after his graduation from the school. Here he studied under the landscapist Alexei Savrasov, who strongly influenced by the Barbizon School, notably introduced the practice of en plein air painting in Russia. He was one of the first significant Russian painters to be inspired by the beauty and expressive potential of his native land, rather than the sunny groves of Italy. Vladimir Petrov remarks on the indebtedness of Levitan to Savrasov: Among the works painted by Levitan in the early 1880s, there are also studies and paintings where the orientation is towards the achievements of A.K.Savrasov (for example "Marshes in the Evening", 1882, present whereabouts unknown...) (see V.Petrov, Levitan, St Petersburg, 1993, p.24) It is arguably in the work of Levitan that Russian landscape painting reaches its most lyrical. He diminishes the importance of narrative elements in his paintings in order to achieve a simple, direct mood. In Marshes in the Evening, the prevalant atmosphere is one of desolation and decay in a marshy wasteland with its poignantly felled tree and small clumps of reed bursting forth from the hostile land. On one level, the painting can be appreciated as an achievement in transforming a landscape bereft of such catchy visual charms as ancient ruins, rivers, peasant folk, rural homes into a work of enduring beauty. On another level, however, one could read the clear divide between the rather dark emptiness of the land and the bright optimism of the sky as a promise of human salvation. On whatever level one chooses to understand the painting, it is unmistakably Russian, creating a clear sense of the vastness of a country stretching from Europe to the Sea of Japan. The painting has an impeccable provenance, belonging to the Bolin family of Jewellers for most of the 20th century. The Bolin firm was founded in St. Petersburg in 1796. Based on the Nevsky Prospekt, under the directorship of Carl Edward Bolin, produced high quality jewellery which in the 1870s earned them an Imperial Warrant. The Moscow branch (who acquired the painting) was founded later, in 1852, by a cousin, Henrik Conrad, and specialised in silverware. After the Bolshevik revolution in 1917, both branches were closed down. By this time, however, the firm had already established a successful branch in Stockholm which still exists today, and which is the only company still to be trading with an Imperial Warrant.