PROPERTY FROM THE FAMILY OF GIOVANNI PRAMAGGIORE
Giovanni Pramaggiore, New York (acquired directly from the artist in 1935)
Thence by descent
Boris Grigoriev arrived in the United States for the first time in 1923, though his name and his art were previously known to the American public thanks to exhibitions organized by Christian Brinton at the Brooklyn Museum and James Rosenberg at The New Gallery. American viewers eagerly embraced the artist's many cycles, including Rasseia and Faces of Russia, and they were especially enamored with his bold, psychological portraits. Meanwhile, for the artist the United States represented a new chapter in his oeuvre—a renaissance of the spirit and a place of both financial success and artistic inspiration. Grigoriev returned to America frequently throughout his lifetime, spending many winters in New York.
During his stays in Manhattan, Grigoriev frequented Giovanni, a French restaurant popular with Russian émigrés as well as the city's social and artistic elite—Ernest Hemingway, Ingrid Bergman, Georges Balanchine and Cole Porter all dined there regularly. The restaurant was a New York City landmark for half a century; it was like an intimate club with a refined ambience, and it remained a throwback to the glamour and gusto of the 1930s. The restaurant was also a unique haven of both culinary excellence and artistic celebrity, "...the place to meet your next duchess or diva, to eavesdrop on a mayor or a maestro, to gaze at stars and observe a celebrated novelist immersed in Chianti and contemplation" (Michael Demarest, Avenue Magazine, April, 1978).
The dining room was located on the second floor of a townhouse on East 55th street, so unassuming that it was often missed by passers-by. To celebrate the opening of this location in 1934 (it previously occupied another building nearby), Grigoriev gave the present lot to the restaurant's owner, Giovanni Pramaggiore, as a gift. Originally one canvas, the picture depicted Giovanni preparing Crêpes Suzette, which was a trademark dish at the restaurant and the artist's particular favorite. Primarily concerned with compositional effect, Grigoriev insisted on incorporating Chianti bottles despite Giovanni's protests (for Chianti was not part of this popular recipe). Giovanni was uncomfortable with the monumental size of the resulting picture—he thought it immodest to display such a work in his restaurant—so when Grigoriev returned from a summer in the South of France, the restaurateur asked the artist to divide it into two separate compositions. Grigoriev did just that, signing the smaller portrait while repainting the tuxedo jacket a brilliant red in the larger image so as to embellish its dramatic effect as a still life. This larger picture hung in Giovanni's until its closure in 1980 and was featured as the restaurant's insignia—on menus, plates, bills and matchbooks. Giovanni hung his portrait in his private residence above the restaurant.
Preparing Crepes is a two-part masterpiece that arrives fresh to the auction market, directly from the descendents of its subject. The compositions serve not only as brilliant and compelling images in their own right, but also as artifacts from the Manhattan meeting place that drew some of the most important and talented figures of the twentieth century.
A Retro Racing Watch for the Modern Man
First Look: A Nearly Impossible Collection of the Most Legendary Wines
10 Dazzling Jewels from the Bourbon Parma Family Collection
First Look: Relive the 1990s Through the Collection of Damien Hirst’s Legendary Manager
Market-leading Contemporary Art Sales in Asia
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Смотреть аукцион онлайн