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PROPERTY FROM THE DIMITRI TIOMKIN COLLECTION

Yuri Pavlovich Annenkov
PORTRAIT OF VSEVOLOD MEYERHOLD
ACCÉDER AU LOT
171

PROPERTY FROM THE DIMITRI TIOMKIN COLLECTION

Yuri Pavlovich Annenkov
PORTRAIT OF VSEVOLOD MEYERHOLD
ACCÉDER AU LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Russian Paintings

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Londres

Yuri Pavlovich Annenkov
1889-1974
PORTRAIT OF VSEVOLOD MEYERHOLD
signed, titled and inscribed Moscow in Cyrillic, dated 1922 l.m.
pencil on paper
image size: 44 by 42.5cm, 17 1/4 by 16 3/4 in.
Lire le rapport d'état Lire le rapport d'état

Provenance

Acquired directly from the artist

Description

Sotheby’s is honoured to be offering for sale pictures and works of art from the collection of the legendary Hollywood composer, Dimitri Tiomkin (1894-1979).

A prodigious musical talent from an early age, Tiomkin left his home town of Kremenchuk in Ukraine to study at the St. Petersburg Conservatoire under Alexander Glazunov. On graduation, Tiomkin found fame as a concert pianist and conductor, and was at the very centre of the city's cultural life through regular visits to the bohemian Stray Dog café, a popular meeting place for the leading figures of Russia’s avant-garde movement such as Vladimir Mayakovsky, Alexander Blok and the artist Yuri Annenkov, who became a close and lifelong friend. After the Revolution, Tiomkin emigrated to Paris and on the advice of Fedor Chaliapin eventually settled in the United States where he turned his hand to composing for the first time.

Perhaps best-remembered for his stirring soundtracks to Hollywood’s Westerns, Tiomkin’s expressive and powerful melodies often drew on the folk tunes of his native Ukraine, which captured the spirit of America’s vast rolling plains. A popular choice for directors such as Frank Capra and Alfred Hitchcock, Tiomkin went on to become one of Hollywood’s most decorated composers, garnering an impressive 22 Academy Award nominations and winning 4 Oscars for, among others, his scores for High Noon (1952) and The Old Man and the Sea (1958).

Dimitri Tiomkin’s art collection reflects his rich cultural heritage and broad artistic interests, from costume designs by Alexander Golovin to illustrations for Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin. Central to the collection is a group of works by Annenkov acquired from the artist, which includes iconic portraits of Tiomkin’s contemporaries such as Vsevolod Meyerhold, Sergei Prokofiev and Maurice Ravel.

In the words of his widow, Olivia, 'Dimitri loved to surround himself with paintings and objects from his country of birth and youth. It was a comfort for the soul to live amongst these reminders of the culture which formed part of his foundation for existence'.

Fabergé, Imperial porcelain and bronzes from the Tiomkin collection will be offered in the Russian Works of Art Sale on 27 November lots 445 - 453, and furniture from the collection will be included in the Arts of Europe Sale on 4 December 2012.

Tiomkin’s life-long friendship with Yuri Annenkov and the theatre director Vsevolod Meyerhold (1874-1940) began while he was still living in St Petersburg. He collaborated with them on Nikolai Evreinov’s ground-breaking re-enactment of the storming of the Winter Palace in 1920, which involved a cast of over 6,000 including ballet dancers, circus artists, and was performed in front of a crowd of 100,000.  

Annenkov excelled at portraiture and is perhaps best known for his depictions of luminaries of theatrical, musical and artistic circles, not only in Russia, but abroad. In the words of the art critic Waldemar George, ‘he deeply scrutinises his models, yet at the same time preserves the supremacy of form, the most intrinsic quality in art’ (Yu.Annenkov, Dnevnik moikh vstrech, vol. I, 1966, p.13)

The scholar Alexis Ramnit divides Annenkov’s portraits broadly into three stylistic groups: synthetic drawings, such as the offered portrait of Meyerhold, which combine the fluid expressiveness of his lines intricately interlaced with cubist elements to incorporate rhythm and motion; tonal drawings, such as the portrait of Vittorio de Sica (lot 175), where soft shading is used to accentuate the graphic construction; and pure line drawings, exuding great energy and movement, such as the portrait of Sergei Prokofiev (lot 173),  where the ‘tremors and rhythmic pulsations [of the line] often give it a vitality independent of the subject. (idem, vol II, p.10)

Meyerhold was one of the most fervent supporters of the New Soviet theatre ushered in after the 1917 Revolution. In parallel to his work at the Mariinsky Opera and Alexandrinsky theatre in St. Petersburg, he set up new theatrical studios, which explored non-realistic acting styles, such as circus and vaudeville.

Annnenkov first met Meyerhold at Nikolai Kulbin’s dacha in Kuokkala in 1914 and was clearly fascinated by this flamboyant visionary, drawing his portrait several times throughout his life.  In the preface to Annenkov’s album  Semnadtsat’ portretov, which includes a portrait of Meyerhold, Anatoly Lunacharsky praises the artist’s ‘positively chimeric, fantastic and brilliantly virtuoso portrait of Meyerhold, depicted as a confident and talented eccentric’ (Semnadtsat’ portretov , 1926)

Meyerhold founded his own theatre in Moscow in 1920, which existed until 1938. But by this time, the director had lost favour with Stalin and the regime, and in 1939 was arrested for anti-Governmental political activities. He was executed by firing squad in early 1940.

In the mid-1930s, the Meyerhold Theatre wrote to Annenkov, who was by this time living in Paris, requesting he donate the original version of his pencil portrait to replace the reproduction which hung in their lobby. Annenkov was very attached to the work and declined. He later explained, ‘the ensuing destruction of not only the theatre but also of Meyerhold proved that I did the right thing. The portrait is now in America, in a private collection’. (Yu. Annenkov, Dnevnik moikh vstrech vol II,  1966, p.88)

Russian Paintings

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