From a wealthy mining family, Alexander Konstantinovsky (1880-1938) became a leading financier in Russia where he built up a collection of Old Master paintings. He emigrated after the 1905 Revolution leaving behind much of his property, but once settled in Vienna and later Berlin he turned again to art collecting and began to acquire works by contemporary Russian artists. Other paintings from Konstantinovsky’s collection offered in these rooms include Konstantin Korovin’s Portrait of a Seated Lady and Still Life with Fruit and Roses, and Petr Konchalovsky’s Autumn Road.
Of all the members of the renowned Knave of Diamonds group, Vasily Rozhdestvensky was perhaps the least declamatory and most elusive; the only ‘knave’ who was sent to the front during the war, Rozhdestvensky was the most serious of the group and together with Robert Falk and Alexander Kuprin, he represents the most enduring branch of the Russian Cézannist school. Whereas the older members of the group – Konchalovsky, Lentulov and Mashkov – diverged from French practices by attaching a comparatively minor role to landscape painting, preferring portraiture and still lifes as their calling cards, for Rozhdestvensky landscape painting played an increasingly important role. With the majority of his work held in museum collections, the appearance at auction of two Russian landscapes from the Konstantinovsky collection (lots 46 and 47) is a rare opportunity for collectors of this period.