Isaac Ilich Levitan
- Isaac Ilich levitan
- the tilled field, spring
- authenticated on the reverse by Igor Grabar
- oil on canvas laid on board
- image size: 20 by 25cm., 8 by 9 3/4 in.
Moscow, The State Tretyakov Gallery, Vsesoyuznaya khudozhestvennaya vystavka, 1938, no.365
Leningrad, The State Russian Museum, Vsesoyuznaya khudozhestvennaya vystavka, 1939, no.236
Moscow, The State Tretyakov Gallery, Isaak Levitan Centenary Exhibition, 1960-1
Moscow, The State Tretyakov Gallery, 1938, cat.no.365
Leningrad, The State Russian Museum, 1939, cat.no.236
Moscow, The State Tretyakov Gallery, Isaak Levitan Centenary Exhibition, 1960-1, p.76
A.Federov-Davidov, Isaak Il'ich Levitan, vol 2: Documenty, materialy, bibliografiya, Moscow, 1966, p.131, no.641
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It is possible to trace a gradual change in Levitan's artistic idiom, from the early works of the 1880s with their minute depiction, to the much more confident and at the same time far less detailed sketches of the early 1890s. Form becomes simplified, the colour scheme is reduced to basic relationships and one can sense an urge toward laconicism. This was never used as a means of arbitrary stylisation however, rather as an method to add depth and significance to apparently random panoramas. Levitan remained a Realist throughout his life - like Serov, his manner was always based on confident draughtsmanship and the most cursory sketches in his mature period stand out for their precise depiction of nature. The forms of the trunks in the offered sketch are absolutely accurately expressed with only two or three brushstrokes; subtle nuances of colour in the coppice of birches and distant woods convey a sense of depth, while the suggestion of pink in the sky creates the sense of poetry that permeates so much of his work. Even though the palette is understated and the patches of colour dense, his late sketches remain as expressive as when the picture was built around complex gradations of each hue.
As Alexei Federov-Davydov remarks in Isaac Levitan, The Mystery of Nature, Levitan's studies were always those of a painter unlike those of a graphic artist like Shishkin, and were therefore truly generalised image of a painting, not the rough resemblance of a sketch. The composition of gently undulating fields in the offered work combines Levitan's talent for composition with the quiet sense of enchantment of a 'rich, populated land adorned with the results of man's labour', a salient feature of his major works.
The Tilled Field, Spring was one of three pictures leant by I.M.Kaplun in 1938-9 for the Vsesoyuznaya khudozhestvennaya vystavka in Moscow and St Petersburg. The State Tretyakov Gallery made an unsuccessful bid to buy the works after the exhibition. The work is authenticated on the reverse by Igor Grabar and bears similarities to other studies by the artist from this period, such as Evening Shadows (1891-4, Taganrog Gallery), Windy Day (The State Tretyakov Gallery) and In the Distance (Private collection).