Russian Pictures

Russian Pictures

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 74. The Lovers.

Pavel Tchelitchew

The Lovers

Lot Closed

June 8, 02:12 PM GMT


40,000 - 60,000 GBP

Lot Details


Pavel Tchelitchew

1898 - 1957

The Lovers

bearing the artist's studio stamp on the reverse and a Richard Nathanson label on the stretcher

oil, sand and coffee on canvas

Canvas: 100 by 60cm, 39 ½ by 23 ¾ in.

Framed: 126.5 by 85.5cm, 49 ¾ by 33 ¾ in.

Executed in 1927-1928

The artist's estate
The artist's sister Alexandra Zaoussailoff, Paris, until her death in 1973
Richard Nathanson, London
Mr and Mrs Siklossky, acquired from the above in June 1978
Christie's London, Impressionist and Modern Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, 20 October 1989, lot 408
Christie's South Kensington, Twentieth Century Art, 1 December 2000, lot 41
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
Exhibition catalogue Pavel Tchelitchew – A Selection of Works arranged by Richard Nathanson, London, 1978, no.5 listed

In late 1923 Tchelitchew arrived in Paris with his partner Allen Tanner, a young American pianist he had met in Berlin. In Berlin, Tchelitchew had devoted much of his time to theatre design and was working in a style which was still very much influenced by Alexandra Exter, his teacher in Kiev. Tchelitchew now turned to painting and drawing, and his Paris period would prove crucial for his development as an artist. The year 1925 in particular was a turning point, when he abandoned bright colours in favour of a much more muted palette, and in his words ‘threw away all but black, white, ochre, natural and burnt umber’ (J.T. Soby, Tchelitchew: Paintings, Drawings, 1942, p.14).

Tchelitchew also started experimenting with simultaneity – the combination of multiple aspects of a single image – a technique first explored by Picasso in his portraits characterised by the superimposition of profiles with frontal views. Tchelitchew’s experimentation extended from the head and face to the human body, eventually evolving into what he labelled the system of ‘laconic’ composition. ‘It consisted in supplying for several figures, contiguous in head and torso, a common set or sets of legs and arms, fewer in number than the figures would normally have, but so arranged that each figure seems complete’ (Tchelitchew, New York, 1964, p.14)

In 1927 Tchelitchew began to apply a relief texture to his painting. The combination of sand, coffee-grounds, and paint was used in other paintings from this period. 'At times (...) he piled up so heavy a texture that, in [Tchelitchew's] words, "The surface of my paintings looked like maps of earth in low relief."' (J.T. Soby, Tchelitchew: Paintings, Drawings, 1942, p.17). Executed in 1927-1928, The Lovers is an exquisite example of Tchelitchew's Parisian period, marked by experimentation with new materials and working technique, as well as his startling achievements with 'laconic' composition.