MacDougall's Fine Art Auctions Important Russian Art Auction - Wednesday 5th June 2019
KUPRIN, ALEXANDER (1880–1960) Seated Nude , signed, also further signed, titled in Cyrillic and dated
1910 on the reverse. Oil on canvas, 105 by 69 cm. Provenance: Collection of T. Anisimova-Kuprina, the artist’s widow. Acquired from the above by V. Shumskii. Private collection, Europe.
Exhibited:Russkie khudozhniki v obiedinenii “Bubnovyi valet”: mezhdu Sezannom i avangardom, Monaco, 11 March–12 April 2004. “Bubnovyi valet” v russkom avangarde, State Russian Museum, St Petersburg, 9 July–9 August 2004. Persona. Image. Time. Human Representation in Art: from Modernism to the Present-day, Cultural Foundation Ekaterina, Moscow, 17 September–13 December 2009.
Literature: Exhibition catalogue, E. Petrova, L. Iovleva, A. Morozov (eds), “Bubnovyi valet” v russkom avangarde, St Petersburg, Palace Editions, 2004, p. 226, illustrated and listed. Exhibition catalogue, Persona. Image. Time. Human Representation in Art: from Modernism to the Present-day, Moscow, Cultural Foundation Ekaterina, 2009, p. 22, illustrated.
Alexander Kuprin’s Seated Nude, painted in the life class of the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in 1910, is one of the iconic works of his time. Kuprin, who until then had been striving to measure up to the best pictures by Valentin Serov and Konstantin Korovin, discovered new ideals and perspectives. He studies the collections of Sergei Shchukin and Ivan Morozov, and often skips classes at the School, instead spending full days at the Golden Fleece exhibitions. Familiarity with paintings by the French Impressionists, Post-Impressionists and Cubists and friendship with Mikhail Larionov completely alter his artistic objectives and his very attitude towards creative work.
Looking back, the artist reverently recalled those days and his first independent steps in art: “The old gods I was supposed to worship had already been toppled from their pedestals. And now there were new ones... I felt with my whole being that our old men (the Itinerants) were a thing of the past. A different time has come, time to follow the French... I made sketches of nudes, male and female, in clear imitation of Cézanne, Van Gogh, Manet, Derain and others (Quoted from: K. Kravchenko, A.V. Kuprin, Moscow, Sovetskii khudozhnik, 1973, p. 57).
Seated Nude is one of Kuprin’s very first such experiments. It still lacks a clearly delineated “artistic manifesto”, while the sitter can be recognised as one of the School’s professional models who frequently featured in works of Kuprin and his classmates. However, overall the picture already exhibits a decisiveness in tackling the form, as well as a fluent and confident style of painting, devoid of a beginner’s assiduousness, an ease with handling colour (which, it has to be said, still has a way to go to reach Kuprin’s radicalism of the 1910s), and the drive and aspiration of youth.