The Old Country House in Pushchino
Property from a Private European Collection
1931 - 2013
The Old Country House in Pushchino
signed in Cyrillic and dated 89 l.r.; further signed, inscribed, titled, dated and bearing a Soviet export stamp on the reverse
oil on canvas
Canvas: 239.5 by 149cm, 94¼ by 58¾in.
Original canvas. Surface scratches are scattered in the foreground. Varnish drip marks are visible towards the centre of the composition. The surface is covered in a layer of dirt. Inspection under UV light reveals no obvious signs of retouching. Unframed.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
Phyllis Kind Gallery, New York
Sotheby's New York, Contemporary Art, 18 November 1992, lot 281
Phillips London, Important Contemporary Russian Art – Property from a Foundation, 28 February 2008, lot 20
Moscow, State Tretyakov Gallery; St Petersburg, State Russian Museum, Oleg Vassiliev: Memory Speaks, September 2004 - March 2005
A 'dominant mode' in Oleg Vassiliev’s oeuvre is memory (Ye.Petrova, N.Kolodzei et al., Oleg Vassiliev: Memory Speaks (Themes and Variations), St Petersburg: Palace Editions, 2004, p.14). The painter’s childhood recollections, highlighted in his autobiography, include copying images from Soviet picture postcards and making regular visits to the State Tretyakov Gallery, with both activities having a strong influence on his artistic practice. The present work relates to these early impressions, since its alternative title alludes to a famous artwork by Vasily Polenov, The Grandmother’s Garden, from the Tretyakov Gallery collection. Polenov's painting depicts an overgrown garden with a wooden mansion visible in the background, the scene animated by the presence of two female figures walking down the stairs together.
In one of the versions of the present work, smaller in scale and executed slightly later (State Tretyakov Gallery), the two figures from Polenov’s painting reappear, this time pictured against the background of a Soviet-style building. In the work offered for sale, the two figures are no longer there, replaced by a cloud of diffused light, like a distant memory one can no longer revive. The painting’s top layer, consisting of falling leaves and dried foliage, acts as a sort of theatrical curtain partially revealing the main scene. The latter is an amalgamation of memories and impressions – a crucial motif in Vassiliev’s practice: ‘In all my work I try to combine things that happen in different times, in different spaces, in different lights. It is like finding things in your memory that are very different and putting them altogether’ (ibid., p.12). The superimposition of the different elements simultaneously acts as a formal experiment, with the leaves and foliage in the foreground disrupting an initially conservative landscape composition.