As a place which united the majesty and might of 18th century Russia with the charms of northern nature, Peterhof was an inexhaustible source of inspiration for Benois. The present lot belongs to the first series of Peterhof views executed in 1900, when Benois was preparing his history of 18th century art. 'The marvellous June and July days of 1900 in Marly or Monplaisir belong to my pleasantest memories’, Benois recollected in his memoirs (London, 1964, p.190). Monplaisir was evidently one of Benois's favourite palaces at the estate: ‘even as a little boy I had a special tenderness for this spot with its low, small, brick-coloured houses hiding in the shade of limes trees planted by Peter the Great himself' (Alexandre Benois, Memoirs
, London, 1988, p.206). The artist spent three further summers there in 1907, 1918 and 1942.
According to the inscription in the lower right of the work, on the evening of 19 June Benois was visited by his friends, Walter Nouvel, Valentin Serov, and Vasily Mathé, who, like Benois, were closely associated with Sergei Diaghilev and the recently founded Mir iskusstva group.