Levitan’s grand vistas are magnificent, but where he excelled was in drawing out the poetry of unremarkable pockets of the countryside – small copses, ramshackle houses, backwater ponds. The wooden porticos and stairways of a Russian dacha surrounded by lilac bushes and trees are a recurring motif in his work. For example, he often sketched and painted Chekhov’s dacha at Babkino. The brilliant lighting on the flowers in the foreground of the present work, set against a dark background, is a technique commonly found in Levitan’s oils (for example, The First Green, May, 1888 or Ferns by the Water, 1895), while the depiction of the long-leafed shrubs is very reminiscent of his greenhouse study The Orangery (The Tula State Museum).
The feathery brushwork, the tone and the subject of the present work strongly suggest Levitan’s hand and the signature also appears to be characteristic. Without a suggested date however, it is impossible to identify this painting in a listing of Levitan’s works with any certainty and the attribution therefore remains unconfirmed.
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