Konstantin Alexeevich Korovin
- Konstantin Alexeevich Korovin
- Evening Serenade
- signed in Cyrillic and dated 1916 (lower left)
- oil on canvas
- 34 1/2 by 26 in., 87.5 by 66 cm
Private Collection, Greece, circa 1975
Richly vibrant, intricately detailed and full of restrained sensuality, Korovin's female portraits are among his most appealing paintings, in particular those rare canvases he executed during his early Russian period. Generally depicting his subjects in deliberately aestheticized, vivid interiors, he employs deft impressionistic brushwork to create a mood of excitement and heightened romance, and nowhere does he achieve these aims more successfully than in those paintings set in the evening. In Korovin's "nocturnes" the female figures are often depicted by open windows or doors, the deep blue sky just visible beyond, and the darkness of the night is an important element in the color schemes of these works, providing a contrast to the warm glow of any lamps or candlelight. In the present work, most likely executed in the artist's studio in Gurzuf, the moonlight emanating through the glass windowpanes provides an important compositional balance to the interior light reflecting off the table and vase of flowers at left, where Korovin incorporates elements of a still life. Such combination of genres—portraiture, still life and interior—was not uncommon in the artist's oeuvre, but it is exceptionally exciting to uncover such a superb example of this tendency from his early, Russian period.
A lady strumming a guitar would become a recurrent theme in his work, where the theatrical use of color serves as a visual embodiment of music. Korovin valued the authenticity of the viewer's immediate impression and emphasized the accidental quality of this moment in the model's gestures. His art grew increasingly spontaneous, allowing paint to spill out beyond outlines to create its own harmonies, memorably described by Konstantin Yuon as "a figurative embodiment of the artist's happiness and his joie de vivre. All the colors in the world beckoned him forward and smiled on him."