In this delicately rendered blend of the landscape and still life genres, Natalia Goncharova showcases the style which she exploited not only in her earliest works but throughout her career. The subject of the autumn bouquet was one to which the artist also returned time and again. Not only were expressions of seasonal colour a symbolic statement and a celebration of nature, the artist often preferred the earthy reds, yellows and greens characteristic of Russian folk art. The lace-edged curtain and the window ledge divide the canvas into uneven thirds that hint of the theatricality and flattened planes of Goncharova’s abstract works. In the foreground, faded petals of orange chrysanthemums have fallen upon the untitled black book; curvaceous autumn fruits are coupled on the sill; and beyond the curtain there lie dark forested depths. The Vermeer-like dividing curtain too is a reworking – not only of Renaissance conventions – but also evokes the lace shawls of the artist’s famed Espagnoles
that she painted from around 1916, during her early émigré period.
Such subtleties highlight the remarkable complexity of Goncharova’s oeuvre and confirm her status as one of the most important European modernist painters of the 20th century. They serve as a reminder of her stylistic dexterity and compositional flair, as well as her continued ability to give new depth and meaning to the figurative trends in 20th century Russian modernism.