FEDOR ANDREEVICH BRONNIKOV
HYMN OF THE PYTHAGOREANS TO THE RISING SUN
signed in Cyrillic, inscribed Roma in Latin and dated 1877 l.l.
oil on canvas
79.5 by 159.5cm, 31¼ by 62¾in.
The canvas has been lined. There is craquelure throughout. There is a very minor dent to the reverse, which has resulted in a small T-shaped crack to the sky in the upper left quadrant. There are frame abrasions with associated paint loss along the edges. Minor scattered flecks of paint loss can be seen elsewhere. There is a layer of surface dirt with spots of dirt in places. Remnants of gold leaf are visible in places along the edges. Inspection under UV light reveals inpainting to the craquelure, most notably to the sky and to the valley on the left. Further minor retouching can be seen in places along the top edge, to the sky on the left and in places elsewhere. Held in a gilt wooden frame. Unexamined out of frame.
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Collection of Guccio Gucci, Rome
Thence by descent
Acquired from the Gucci family by the previous owner
Probably Paris, Exposition Universelle, 1878, no.21
Exhibition catalogue Exposition universelle internationale de 1878 à Paris, Paris: Imprimerie nationale, 1878, p.239, no.21 listed as Les disciples de Pythagore
The present lot is one of several versions Bronnikov made of his famous composition Hymn of the Pythagoreans to the Rising Sun. This scene from antiquity depicting the religious rites of the Pythagoreans, who are believed to have worshipped the rising sun accompanied by sacred music, was initially commissioned by Pavel Tretyakov after he saw a sketch of the subject in the artist’s studio in Rome in 1868. This initial composition was widely admired by other collectors and proved to be a commercial success for the artist, resulting in a number of subsequent repetitions. Besides the original 1869 version, now at the State Tretyakov Gallery (fig.1), the artist executed at least six others, three of which belong to museums in Russia (the Ostrogozhsk House-Museum of Ivan Kramskoi and Ryazan State Regional Art Museum) and in Kazakhstan (A.Kasteyev State Museum of Arts of the Republic of Kazakhstan).
The present version dates from 1877 and is most likely that which Bronnikov exhibited at the Exposition Universelle of 1878 in Paris under the title The Disciples of Pythagoras. In the artist’s correspondence with Tretyakov, he writes of his intention to send the ‘Pythagoreans’ to Paris ‘the ones that have just been painted’. The painting was sold by lottery at the end of the exhibition and remained in the same prestigious private Italian collection for most of the last century.