Lot 18
  • 18

Ilya Efimovich Repin

65,000 - 85,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Ilya Efimovich Repin
  • Portrait of a Man in Spanish Costume
  • signed in Latin and dated 1873 l.r.
  • oil on canvas
  • 56 by 46.5cm, 22 by 18 1/4 in.


Private collection, England
Acquired by the grandfather of the present owners


I.Grabar and I.Zilbershtein, Repin. Khudozhestvennoe nasledstvo, vol.1, Moscow: Izdatel'stvo Akademii nauk SSSR, 1948, p.121 illustrated b/w; p.582 listed

Catalogue Note

Repin's stint in Paris on a travel scholarship from the Academy (1873-76) was an exhilarating period in his career: ‘I am working like never before’, he wrote soon after his arrival, ‘never have so many ideas flooded my mind; there is no time to separate the wheat from the chaff – the climate is such that everyone is working prolifically’ (cited in Repin, vol.1, 1948, p.119). His creative fervour was soon tempered by financial constraints: 'models are terribly expensive in Paris, 10 francs per session', which resulted in the series of swiftly executed studies to which the present lot belongs.

Scholars believe that Repin sold the smaller Paris-period works locally soon after their execution, using these funds to supplement his modest scholarship. Indeed, at least one Parisian dealer, Duboile, urged the artist to sell through his gallery rather than sending his work back to Russia. In 1948 Grabar and Zilbershtein located one such work, this very portrait, in a private collection in London and published it for the first time in their monograph. The authors proposed that it was the subject of the anecdote in Repin's letter dated 25 April 1875: ‘I was recently visited by an English gentleman with a request to contribute to a charitable cause. I gave him the poor head and then, lo and behold, I was acknowledged in Les Temps alongside the most prominent artists of the day. The head was met with critical acclaim and it was said of it that it was painted très vigoreux, très nerveux, which made me laugh very much (ibid, p.120). The spelling of the signature with an extra 'n' is typical of Repin's early Parisian works and is found on two further canvases from 1873, Storm on the Volga (State Russian Museum) and The Beggar (Velles) (Irkutsk Regional Museum of Fine Arts).