Lot 49
  • 49

Valentin Alexandrovich Serov

Estimate
80,000 - 120,000 GBP
bidding is closed

Description

  • Valentin Alexandrovich Serov
  • Portrait of Pope Innocent X after Velázquez
  • signed in Cyrillic and dated 89 l.l.; further inscribed in Cyrillic and dated 89 by another hand on the reverse
  • oil on canvas

Provenance

In the same family since before the First World War

Exhibited

Probably Moscow, IX Periodical Exhibition of the Moscow Society of Art Lovers, 1889, listed on p.8 as no.131, Kopiya s Velaskesa

Literature

I.Zilbershtein, V.Samkov, Valentin Serov v vospominaniyakh, dnevnikakh i perepiske sovremennikov, vol.2, referenced on pp.146 and 189

Catalogue Note

In a letter dated 6 May 1889 Serov writes to the collector Ilya Ostroukhov about the progress on a copy of a portrait of Pope Innocent X by Velázquez at the Hermitage (quoted in Valentin Serov v perepiske, interv’yu I dokumentakh, Leningrad, 1985, p.154). The work Serov was copying was among those acquired by Catherine the Great from Sir Robert Walpole’s estate Houghton Hall in 1778. It was later sold by the Soviet Government and is now at the National Gallery of Art in Washington with the attribution Circle of Velásquez.

In his memoirs, Alexander Golovin also refers to this episode and recalls the persistence with which he copied the portrait (Valentin Serov v vospominaniyakh, dnevnikakh i perepiske sovremennikov, Leningrad, 1971, vol.1, p.225). Golovin was particularly struck by the faithfulness of Serov’s version and the fact that even the dimensions are identical suggests that this may have primarily been a technical exercise. It is however interesting to note that Serov thought the work important enough to be included in the IX Periodical Exhibition of the Moscow Society of Art Lovers. The reviews spoke highly of it with one critic referring to it as a ‘superb copy’ and another calling the artist the ‘Moscow Velázquez’ (Valentin Serov v perepiske, interv’yu I dokumentakh, Leningrad, 1985, p.155). While the work is not thought to have been shown in public since, the editors of Valentin Serov v vospominaniyakh, dnevnikakh i perepiske sovremennikov, Ilya Zilbershtein and Vladimir Samkov, were aware of its existence in a private collection in Paris (1971, vol.2, p.189).
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