ALEXEI KONDRATIEVICH SAVRASOV
signed in Cyrillic and dated 1881 l.r.
oil on canvas
53.5 by 45.5cm, 21 by 18in.
The canvas has been lined. There are a few scattered flecks of dirt in places, mostly confined to the sky. There are abrasions to the edges with some minor losses. Isolated areas of craquelure are visible in places. There is a fine scratch with a tiny fleck of paint loss to the lower right of the herd of cows. The surface is covered in a light dusting of dirt and the varnish has discoloured. Inspection under UV light reveals an area of restoration to the sky to the left of the dead tree as well as a few other minor scattered areas of retouching, most notably to the edges and the water in the lower right. Held in a gilt wooden frame with canvas slip.
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.
Situated in the north east of Moscow, Losiny Ostrov was for centuries a strictly guarded hunting area reserved for Grand Dukes and Tsars. In the 19th century the forest became a popular location for duels, famously immortalised by Leo Tolstoy in War and Peace. The wild beauty of this natural area was also popular with artists: Savrasov’s 1869 masterpiece Losiny Ostrov in Sokolniki was awarded first prize in a competition of the Moscow Society of Art Lovers and immediately acquired by Pavel Tretyakov, while Levitan’s Autumn Day. Sokolniki brought recognition to the young and then unknown artist.
By 1881 Savrasov had been greatly affected by the death of his only daughter, alcoholism and a deepening disillusionment; the palette becomes more sombre and the landscapes less populated, but still heartbreakingly beautiful. Here, the unmatched draughtsmanship and depth of artistic expression characteristic of his earlier work is very much in evidence.
Despite the isolation and poverty of the last years of his life, the admiration of his peers and pupils never wavered. In Isaak Levitan's summation after his death: ‘Savrasov created the Russian landscape, and this undoubted merit will never be forgotten in the field of Russian art’.