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Details & Cataloguing

Russian Art Evening Sale

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London

Konstantin Alexeevich Korovin
1861-1939
BOULEVARD DE SÉBASTOPOL
signed in Latin, inscribed  Paris and dated 1923 l.l.
oil on canvas
81 by 100cm., 32 by 39 1/4 in.
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Catalogue Note

The main north-south artery of the city, Boulevard de Sébastopol  was designed by Baron Hausmann in the mid-19th century to pierce through Paris' dense medieval alleys and rationalise the capital. The opportunity afforded by wide boulevards flooded by light and milling crowds, delighted and excited the young Korovin, accustomed to the low buildings and limited perspectives of Moscow's irregular streets. The attraction of aerial perspective is beautifully displayed in Monet's Boulevard des Capucines (1873), but the consummate stage designer, Korovin brings a further theatricality and an almost unnatural vibrancy to the spectacle below, reminiscent both of the brilliance of his work for Mamontov's private opera company, but perhaps also of the magical, semi-nostalgic descriptions of 19th century Paris he has heard as a child: "I was struck by Paris when I first arrived at 26 years old. But I had a strong sense that I has already seen it before. It was just as my grandmother had described it".

By turning his back on what he felt were the timid approaches of the peredvizhniki towards Impressionism, Korovin crucially began to wean Russian artists away from their dull palettes and careful brushwork. His impulsive, deliberately sketchy style also brought him great personal success and in 1923 the Tretyakov Gallery hosted an important exhibition of his work. In the same year he emigrated to Paris and painted Boulevard de Sébastopol. The vigour with which the sun assaults the several surfaces and diffuses through the canopy of the trees shows Korovin had lost none of his youthful enthusiasm for the Impressionists' treatment of light and the techniques he had famously been "so scolded for at home".

Russian Art Evening Sale

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London