Lot 10
  • 10

Nikanor Gregorievich Chernetsov, 1804-1879

200,000 - 300,000 GBP
848,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Nikanor Gregorievich Chernetsov
  • View of Orianda on the Southern shores of the Crimea
  • signed in Cyrillic l.m. and dated 1833; further titled in Cyrillic on reverse
  • oil on canvas


Collection of the Nobel Family
Thence by descent

Catalogue Note

Contemporaries of poet Alexander Pushkin, Nikanor and his elder brother Grigori Chernetsov documented the myriad landscapes of the vast Empire of Nicholas I.  They are among Russia’s earliest landscape painters, depicting views of the Russian provinces long before the peredvizhniki turned their attention from Italy to the natural beauty of their native land.

In 1823 Nikanor Chernetsov won a scholarship to study at the Imperial Academy of Arts in St Petersburg as a landscape painter under Professor Maxim Nikiforovich Vorobiev (1787-1855).  Although by this time life in the provinces and far southern parts of the Empire were popular subjects in Russian literature, primarily scenes from classical history or views of Italy were considered worthy for artists.  Silvestr Schedrin (1791-1830), the father of Russian landscape painting had left Russia for Italy on an academic scholarship in 1818, and did not return.  The Chernetsov brothers travelled to Italy in the 1840s, but fortunately they left behind an immense body of work from the 1830s from their travels in the Russian Empire.  Many such views had never before been painted and their exotic locations, with cliffs, caves and picturesque coves captured the public’s imagination.  Alexander Pushkin owned a painting by Nikanor Chernetsov of the Daryal Pass in the Caucasus which hung in his study.

After graduation from the Academy, from 1829-31 Nikanor Chernetsov travelled extensively throughout the Caucasus with the chairman of the Imperial Society for the Encouragements of the Arts.  This society, which funded residential scholarships to Italy of Karl Briullov and Alexander Ivanov, had been set up in St Petersburg by wealthy patrons in 1820 and organised exhibitions and competitions independently from the Academy.  From 1833-36 he worked in the services of a Russian Governor General M.S. Vorontsov in the Crimea.  During this period his travels took him the full length of the Black Sea coast, to Tbilisi and as far as the border with Turkey.  He observed the local nature, towns, ancient ruins, customs, clothes, and various ethnic groups living in the Crimea.  He executed several hundreds of pencil studies, watercolours, gouaches and sepia drawings from which he would then build up his large scale oil paintings.   The wealth of material left to posterity from these trips is encyclopaedic.

Evidently influenced by his tutor Vorobiov who had been official war artist during the Napoleonic campaign of 1813-14, many of Chernetsov’s paintings recorded contemporary events, such as a military exercise, Imperial gathering or garden party as in Novi Miskhor. Na Vodakh of 1834.  The offered lot, View of Orianda on the Southern Shores of the Crimea appears to belong to this canon.  On a high, rocky promontory, we observe a meeting of officials surveying the immediate terrain.  Orianda is located on the Black Sea coast between Ai Todor and Yalta, an area once termed “The Imperial Coast” for its proliferation of Imperial summer dachas.

In the late 1820s building work had started on a summer dacha for Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna, the wife of Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich, youngest son of Emperor Paul I.  As this dacha was situated in upper Orianda, it is quite possible Chernetsov’s painting relates to its early construction.  Thus, the figure in full military uniform could be the Grand Duke himself, together with his architect, servants, and Tartar guides.  His consort, a daughter of the Duke of Wuttermberg, took the name of Elena Pavlovna upon marriage.  She was the patroness of several charities, a prominent social hostess and played an important role in the liberalisation of the serfs in 1861.

View of Orianda in the Southern Shores of the Crimea formed a part of the collection of Russian paintings in the possession of the Nobel family, who distinguished themselves in the early development of the oil business in Russia in the 19th century.  Ludvig, the younger brother of Alfred Nobel discovered new technical methods in this industry, namely pipelines for the transportation of oil and oil tankers built in sections in Sweden and assembled on the Caspian Sea.