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PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, UNITED STATES

David Petrovich Shterenberg
PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST'S FATHER AND SISTER (PINCHAS AND MALKA SHTERENBERG)
JUMP TO LOT
42

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, UNITED STATES

David Petrovich Shterenberg
PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST'S FATHER AND SISTER (PINCHAS AND MALKA SHTERENBERG)
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

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David Petrovich Shterenberg
1881-1948
PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST'S FATHER AND SISTER (PINCHAS AND MALKA SHTERENBERG)
signed in Latin l.r.
oil on canvas
80.5 by 62cm, 31 3/4 by 24 1/2 in.
Executed circa 1914
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Provenance

A gift from the artist's widow to Malka Shterenberg, the artist's sister and grandmother of the present owner, circa 1948

Exhibited

Moscow, Museum of Pictorial Culture, Vystavka proizvedenii khudozhnika D.P. Shterenberga, 1927, no.4
Moscow, MOSKh Exhibition Hall, D.P. Shterenberg, 1959
Moscow, Union of Artists Exhibition Hall, David Petrovich Shterenberg, 1881-1948: Zhivopis', grafika, 1978

Literature

Katalog vystavki proizvedenii khudozhnika D.P. Shterenberga, Moscow: Glavnauka, 1927, no.4, p.9 listed (dated 1909)
Exhibition catalogue, D.P. Shterenberg, Moscow: MOSKh, 1959, p.7 listed (dated 1909)
Exhibition catalogue David Petrovich Shterenberg, 1881-1948: Zhivopis', grafika, Moscow: Sovetskii khudozhnik, 1978, p.26 listed under works from 1914
M.Lazarev, David Shterenberg: Khudozhnik i vremya. Put' khudozhnika, Moscow: Galaktika, 1992, p.53 illustrated; p.219 listed (dated 1914)
M.Lazarev, David Shterenberg, Moscow: Art-Rodnik, 2006, p.28 illustrated

Catalogue Note

Shterenberg was born into a Jewish family in Zhitomyr, an important centre of the Hasidic movement that lay on a historic route linking Kiev with Western Europe. In 1906 the artist was forced to leave his home town due to harassment of the members of his party, the Jewish Labour Bund, emigrating first to Vienna and then to Paris. It was there, aged 25, that he first received professional artistic training at the École des Beaux-Arts and then at the Académie Vitti under the leading Fauvist painter, Kees van Dongen (1877-1968).

Executed circa 1914, Portrait of the Artist's Father and Sister was painted at the height of Shterenberg’s Parisian period (1907-1917). By this point his paintings were attracting growing critical acclaim, featuring regularly at both the Salon d'Automne and Salon des Indépendants. Living at La Ruche, the artist’s residence in Montparnasse, Shterenberg mingled with prominent members of the Parisian avant-garde, such as Modigliani, Matisse, Soutine and Apollinaire. It was at La Ruche, in the spring of 1914, that Shterenberg was visited by Anatoly Lunacharsky (1875-1933), a Marxist exile and correspondent of the radical newspaper Kievskaya Mysl’. Inspired by the visit, Lunacharsky remarked:

‘I must note not only the pluralism in Shterenberg’s experimentations, but also the extraordinary progress he has accomplished in this time and the confidence of his style. He is not only a painter, but also a poet. Whilst other artists lose themselves in the mad realm of Futurism or end up being deeply stalled between the blocks of Cubism, young Shterenberg takes two of these directions simultaneously which is, in my opinion, promising.’ (quoted in M.Lazarev, David Shterenberg, Moscow, 2006, p.22).

This encounter with the future People’s Commissar of Education was to have far-reaching consequences for Shterenberg’s career after the Revolution. However, already in 1914 the visit and the praise that followed in the Russian press were decisive for the artist, who was then better known in Paris avant-garde circles than at home. On Lunacharsky’s recommendation, Shterenberg was invited by Kievskaya Mysl’ to visit Kiev, where he was also offered a personal exhibition. The present double-portrait of the artist’s father and his teenager sister Malka, was most likely executed in the summer of 1914 and is part of a series of works inspired by the trip to Zhitomyr to visit his family. Whilst the sitters are painted with a degree of severe realism that was unusual for the artist at this time, the rendition of wooden huts as geometrical fragments of single blocks of colour is clearly informed by his Cubist experimentations.

Widely exhibited and published, Portrait of the Artist's Father and Sister is without doubt one of the most important works by the artist ever to appear at auction.  

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