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Details & Cataloguing

Russian Art Day Sale

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London

Viktor Alexeevich Bobrov
1842-1918
ESTHER
signed in Cyrillic and dated 1888 t.l.
oil on canvas
79 by 62cm, 31 by 24 1/2 in.
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Provenance

Acquired by the grandfather of the present owner in Russia in the early 1920s

Literature

F.Bulgakov, Nashi khudozhniki, St Petersburg, 1890 (reprinted 2002), p.42, listed under works from 1888

Catalogue Note

Oil paintings by Bobrov are exceptionally rare, hardly found even in museum collections. During the 1860s and 1870s he was best known for his engravings and watercolours, but with the advent of photography in the late 1880s he turned to oil painting again and joined Alexei Harlamoff and Konstantin Makovsky in the increasingly popular genre of Salon portraiture. Bobrov would paint the same model repeatedly in different poses, dressed up in contemporary or historical costume. A repetition of the theme of the present work can be found in a 1905 postcard published in Zabitye imena. Russkaya zhivopis’ XIX veka (fig.1).

Bobrov was famously inspired by Rembrandt, and may well have modelled his Esther on the Dutch master’s Ahasuerus and Haman at the Feast of Esther (1660, The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts), though the Jewish queen of the Persian king Xerxes, Esther was an exotic subject that appealed to the late Victorian and Orientalist aesthetic across Europe.

Russian Art Day Sale

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London