Makovsky’s two daughters feature frequently in his sketches, oil studies and more finished watercolours (fig.1). The present large-scale oil is one of the finest in this series and was clearly prized by the artist himself since he chose it to be featured in the studio photograph taken by the renowned photographer, Karl Bulla (fig.2). A superb and intimate double-portrait, the rich palette and decorative interior is highly comparable to Portrait of the Artist’s Son in the Studio (1882, The Novgorod State Museum). As Elena Nesterova remarks in her monograph on the artist, images of childhood occupy a special place in Makovsky’s portraiture: ‘The combination of formal and intimate, effective and sentimental, “toy-like” and “grown-up” features are turned into mere devices in Makovsky’s portraits of children, but the brilliant and easy artistic manner made them original and memorable’. The painting has remained with the artist’s descendants for over a century and the present auction marks its first public appearance.
Original canvas. The tacking edges have been reinforced. There are various small tears, minor holes, losses and abrasions to the edges of the canvas. These are not visible when the work is framed. There is a small T-shaped tear to the canvas between the older girl's head and the candelabra. There are two repaired tears with several small canvas patches visible on the reverse. The canvas is buckling slightly in the upper right corner and towards the centre of the right edge. There is a horizontal crack with some minor associated paint loss to the right edge below the chair. There are further minor cracks in places, most notably to the upper right corner. There is a light layer of surface dirt. Inspection under UV light reveals a small area of retouching above the older girl's head which corresponds to one of the aforementioned repaired tears. UV light further reveals retouching to the second repaired tear running horizontally across the right arm of the older girl, vertically to the right of the teddy bear, below the teddy bear and to the lower part of the commode. There are further minor scattered areas of retouching to the commode, to the skirt of the older girl, to the dress of the younger girl as well as to her shoe. Held in a gilt wooden frame with plaster mouldings. "In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."