Details & Cataloguing

Russian Pictures


Xan Krohn
1882 - 1959
signed in Latin t.r.; further numbered N132 and bearing a label inscribed in Cyrillic Portret Gna B / Eksan Kron / Smol. bul'v. B. Levshinskii per. / d. 12 on the reverse
oil on canvas
76 by 70cm, 30 by 27 1/2 in.
Executed circa 1915-16
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Moscow, Kira Mikhailova Art Salon, Bubnovyi valet [Knave of Diamonds], 1916, no.66 Portret gospodina B.


Katalog vystvaky kartin i skul'ptur obshchestva khudozhnikov 'Bubnovyi valet', Moscow, 1916, no.66 listed as Portret gospodina B.

Catalogue Note

Originally from Norway, Christian Cornelius Krohn, better known as Xan, and his Russian-Swedish wife Julie de Holmberg were key members of the Russian avant-garde in the early part of the 20th century. Xan first moved to Russia in 1905 to study under Ilya Repin before relocating to Munich and then Paris, where he met Julie. They married in 1907 and moved to Kiev, then one of the artistic and cultural centres of the Russian Empire, where they were close friends with Alexandra Exter.

Xan participated twice in the exhibitions of the Knave of Diamonds society in Moscow, first in 1912 and again in the 1916 exhibition, which also included works by Julie. By this time the couple was living in the capital and Xan had established himself as a successful portrait painter. In 1915 and 1916, he painted two portraits of renowned collector Sergei Shchukin, both of which are now in the collection of the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.

After the Russian Revolution the Krohns settled in Oslo where they remained for the rest of their lives.

The present lot was among the works Xan Krohn exhibited at the 1916 Knave of Diamonds exhibition in Moscow. The handwritten title on the old label on the reverse corresponds to no.66 in the catalogue, where the artist is listed as E.K. Krohn. The first initial stands for Eksan, a variant of Xan which is written on the label. The address given in the catalogue and the one found on the label are also identical. 

Russian Pictures