Property from an Important Private Collection
PETR PETROVICH KONCHALOVSKY | PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST LEVON BUNATIAN
Estimate: 300,000 - 500,000 GBP
PETR PETROVICH KONCHALOVSKY
PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST LEVON BUNATIAN
signed in Cyrillic and dated 1920 t.l.; further indistinctly signed and dated on the reverse
oil on canvas
111 by 116cm, 43¾ by 45¾in.
The canvas is unlined and is securely attached to a keyed wooden stretcher. The tacking and turnover edges have been reinforced with a strip-lining. There is a raised canvas seam running vertically through the left side of the composition approximately 9 cm from the left edge. This appears to have been reinforced with adhesive on the reverse and is stable at present.
The paint surface has a relatively even varnish layer. The paint surface displays an overall pattern of slightly raised craquelure, including vertical lines corresponding to the central vertical cross member and raised diagonal lines running through the upper right quadrant of the composition. These appear stable at present. The paint surface displays a number of small scattered paint losses with associated paint instability, including within the green chair in the lower left and right quadrants. The losses expose an under layer of different coloured paint in places The signature in the upper left corner displays a number of historic losses and appears to have been coated in wax which has acted as a consolidant. Inspection under ultraviolet light shows scattered retouchings throughout the composition, including:
1) retouching corresponding to the seam in the left side of the composition
2) retouchings running along and close to the extreme edges including within and around the
signature in the upper left
3) retouchings corresponding to the diagonal lines of craquelure in the upper right quadrant
4) several retouchings within the sitter's face.
Other retouchings are also visible.
The painting would therefore appear to be relatively good condition having undergone restoration work in the past.
This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller.
The family of the artist
Private collection, Russia
Sotheby's London, Russian Art, 26 November 2007, lot 48
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
Moscow, The State Tretyakov Gallery, Vystavka proizvedenii P.P. Konchalovskogo, April 1922, no.118
Abramtsevo Museum-Reserve, Petr Petrovich Konchalovsky v Abramtseve, 1977, no.52
Exhibition catalogue Katalog vystavki proizvedenii P.P. Konchalovskogo, Moscow: Tvorchestvo, 1922, no.118 listed
Konchalovsky. Khudozhestvennoe nasledie, Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1964, p.103 listed as zhi 293
Exhibition catalogue Petr Petrovich Konchalovsky v Abramtseve, Moscow: Sovetskii khudozhnik, 1977, no.52 illustrated b/w and listed
‘I don’t like to depict a person in his everyday environment, but always strive to find something of the style of the person depicted, to find in him something common to all humanity. It is not the superficial likeness that is important to me, but the artistic image’ (P.Konchalovsky, quoted in Khudozhestvennoe nasledie, 1964, p.29).
Painted in 1920, the present large-scale portrait of the artist Levon Bunatian (1898-1972), or Leonardo Benatov as he would call himself after emigration, epitomizes Konchalovsky’s portraiture of the early post-revolutionary period. The bare-chested Bunatian, then a student of Konchalovsky at Svomas/Vkhutemas, is seated in an armchair in his teacher’s studio. He is neither engaged in his work, nor bearing any attributes that would immediately identify him as an artist. While the objects stacked behind him are recognisable as canvases, the overall treatment of the background is near abstract, focusing the attention of the viewer on the sitter.
Stylistically, the work bears a close resemblance to Konchalovsky’s portrait of the sculptor Petr Bromirsky, dating from the previous year, and to his celebrated series of oak trees at Abramtsevo, in all of which the influence of Cézanne is ever present.
Portrait of the Artist Levon Bunatian was included in Konchalovsky’s first-ever solo exhibition, which took place to great acclaim at the State Tretyakov Gallery in 1922.