An indistinct Danish label on the reverse indicates that this work was purchased in London 'for 134 guineas (approximately £141 or 2500 Danish Kroner) from the estate of the deceased Grand Duke Sergius'. It possible that this was Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich (1857– 1905).
The image of haystacks inspired a small important group of works by Shishkin, from his very early Harvest painted in the 1850s, to his Ukrainian Mown Field, Polesya landscape (1884) and the etching, Field from 1886 (fig.1), all of which are in the State Tretyakov Gallery. The theme of the harvest itself inspired perhaps his most famous painting, Midday in the Outskirts of Moscow (1869), yet these harvest-themed paintings rarely appear at auction.
'The advent of the 1890s saw Shishkin at the peak of his powers (... ) In the last decade of his life Shishkin continued to work with enthusiasm on studies that to this day impress the viewer by their purity and sunlit radiance. Nor did he abandon landscape compositions. His large-format pictures are outstanding for their consummate craftsmanship, conceptual completeness and mature thought' (A. Savinov and A. Fyodorov-Davydov, Shishkin, Leningrad: Aurora Art, 1983). This sense of composition is very apparent in the offered lot, where the gentle curves are repeated throughout in the slope, haystacks, clouds and track.
Shishkin spent the spring of 1890 painting in Tver and over the summer produced a famous series of paintings in Finland. The offered lot was painted on his return to Russia, in Preobrazhenskoye, just east of Moscow, where he later worked on another sun-filled landscape, Grove by a Pond, Preobrazhenskoe (fig. 2) Such was Shishkin's fame at this stage of his career, that to mark forty years of his creative endeavour he was granted a personal exhibition at the Imperial Academy of Arts in November 1891, in order to showcase his studies, drawings and etchings.
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