November 26, 01:34 PM GMT
180,000 - 250,000 GBP
NIKANOR GRIGORIEVICH CHERNETSOV
VIEW OF ALEXANDRIA
signed in Cyrillic and dated 1850 l.l.; further signed, titled and dated on the reverse and bearing a seal on the stretcher
oil on canvas
78.5 by 119.5cm, 31 by 47in.
In 1840, the Chernetsov brothers, Nikanor, Grigory and Polikarp, left Russia for their first trip abroad. After an extended and fruitful stay in Italy, they left Europe behind with the aim of reaching the Holy Land. They travelled via Egypt, arriving in Alexandria in the autumn of 1842. By then, the city had largely recovered from the Napoleonic wars and was once again an important economic and cultural centre.
The brothers worked relentlessly, filling their sketchbooks with the exotic views they encountered. Back in St Petersburg, these would become valuable material which would influence their work for years to come. In the present work, painted by Nikanor in 1850, one can clearly see the influence of Maxim Vorobiev, his teacher at the Imperial Academy. Alexandria is seen from the distance, from a slightly elevated view point, revealing the city in all its glory. On the left, one can see the Citadel of Qaitbay, built in the 15th century on the site of the famous Pharos, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
While the artist was mainly interested in the landscape and architectural details, the figures in the foreground add additional interest. Chernetsov clearly took much pain in finding the right balance, making changes to the composition. The pentimenti of overpainted figure groups are visible at the centre of the foreground and by the cave.