IVAN PAVLOVICH POKHITONOV
LILACS ON THE MANTELPIECE, RUE DU TRÔNE
signed in Latin and inscribed Bx II l.r.
oil on cardboard
23.5 by 21.5cm, 9¼ by 8½in.
Executed in 1923
The artist's board is providing an even and stable structural support. There is a very small circular indentation towards the extreme upper left corner of the composition.
The paint surface appears to have a very thin application of varnish which has degraded. There are two small areas of abrasion with associated paint loss within the mantelpiece in the lower centre of the composition and two further small areas within the flowers and the painting in the centre of the composition. There is a tiny paint loss with associated paint instability within the black vase in the lower left quadrant. Inspection under ultraviolet light shows the paint surface to fluoresce unevenly but no evidence of any retouching was found.
The painting would therefore appear to be in good condition and would benefit from cleaning, restoration and revarnishing.
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Collection of Eugénie von Wulfert and Boris Wulfert Pokhitonov, Belgium
Boris Wulfert Pokhitonov, France
Collection of Nikolaus von Wulfert, Germany
Thence by descent
Christie's London, Important Russian Pictures, 28 November 2007, lot 293
O.Bertrand, Ivan Pokhitonov (1850-1932), Catalogue Raisonné, Volume 1, Luxembourg: Belart International Editions, 2015, p.227, no.I5 illustrated
This rare interior scene is one of five such elegant depictions of Pokhitonov’s apartment in rue du Trône, Brussels, where he lived from 1922 until his death at the end of 1923. At this time the artist’s health was deteriorating and he changed to cardboard supports rather than his preferred wooden panels due to the greatly simplified preparation process.
As a master of the composition in miniature Pokhitonov carefully selected the angle and arranged the composition of his paintings. Here, it is as if we see the room through the artist’s own eyes; instead of giving the viewer an overall view of the interior the composition is abruptly brought right up close. Even though the vase with lilacs is off-centre the viewer’s eye is drawn to it - the result of the artist’s technical brilliance and attention to even the smallest of details.
Aged 73, Pokhitonov was still a formidable draughtsman and colourist but his technique had evolved and he no longer sought to paint his scenes with photographic accuracy but to infuse them with impressionistic sensibility creating a strikingly modern effect.