Russian Pictures

Russian Pictures

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 14. KONSTANTIN EGOROVICH MAKOVSKY |Boyarina .


Auction Closed

June 4, 12:47 PM GMT


80,000 - 120,000 GBP

Lot Details





signed in Latin t.r.

oil on canvas

68 by 56cm, 26¾ by 22in.

Konstantin Makovsky was an artist who delighted in beauty and one of the most in-demand society portrait painters of his day. In the late 19th century Russian society underwent a further polarisation between Western-looking modernisers and conservative nationalists following the assassination of Tsar Alexander II and the end of the golden-age of Russian nationalism. The attraction of the pre-Petrine ruling class of the Boyars as a subject for a Salon history painter was unsurprising and the staging of tableaux vivants of Boyar life was a favourite amusement in the Makovsky household. From the 1880s the subject gradually supplanted all others and his portraits of Boyarinas were to prove the most popular of all. ‘Doe-eyed, dark-browed, with long lowered lashes, melancholic or teasing, in kokoshniks of various shapes, with ribbons, earrings, necklaces, they form a whole gallery of Russian beauties. Some of these heads ended up in his various ‘Boyar’ paintings, others existed on their own, but they all illustrate the artist’s search for a certain idealised type with the then-fashionable element of nationalism.’(E.Nesterova, K.Makovsky, St Petersburg: Zolotoi vek, 2003, p.92).

In the present lot, the sheer pleasure the artist takes in depicting the luxurious furs, extravagantly piled-on jewels and heavily-embroidered costume of the Boyarina is evident. He had originally intended her kokoshnik to be even more elaborate and the pentimento of the original design is a living trace of the artist’s hand, preserved over the generations.