Autumn in Ochkasovo, signed, also further signed, inscribed "Yarosl. obl.", titled in Cyrillic and dated 1969 on the reverse.
Oil on canvas, 90 by 149.5 cm.
Provenance: Acquired directly from the artist by the Art Fund of the USSR, Moscow, on 27 August 1969 (label on the stretcher).
The Garrison Officers' House, Tver.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Important private collection, USA.
Authenticity certificate from Vladimir Stozharov, the artist's son.
Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by V. Swanson, art historian and author of the book, Soviet Impressionist Painting, Woodbridge, Antique Collectors’ Club, 2008.
Literature: N. Komova, N. Mazurenko, Vladimir Fyodorovich Stozharov. Zhivopis’. Risunok, Moscow, Sovetskii khudozhnik, 1977, p. 100, listed under works from 1969.
V. Swanson, Soviet Impressionist Painting, Woodbridge, Antique Collectors' Club, 2008, pp. 196–197, pl. 146, illustrated as A Summer Day.
Exhibited: Soviet Art in Conflict: The Artist as an Agent of Social Change, Springville Museum of Art, Utah, September 2007–February 2008.
Autumn in Ochkasovo is one of the works Vladimir Stozharov painted at Yaroslavl that became a kind of apotheosis in his career and in many ways summed up the quarter-century taken up by his artistic and spiritual quest. Although the artist had never painted pictures on themes required by the Party elite, he nonetheless achieved official, all-Union recognition and high honours for precisely such subjects as can be seen in Autumn in Ochkasovo.
Born and brought up in Moscow, Stozharov found that rural Russia held an irresistible attraction for him, particularly the land around Kostroma where his father had been born, and Yaroslavl, which he visited often. It was during a visit to the Yaroslavl region in 1969 that his picture entitled Pokrov was conceived, one of the artist’s best monumental works. In 1970 it was shown widely at all the major exhibitions in the USSR and is now to be found in the Russian Museum in St Petersburg. The present lot – Autumn in Ochkasovo – was a preliminary, more panoramic version of Pokrov– its equal in strength of expression and even somewhat surpassing it in dynamism and compositional immediacy.
In Autumn in Ochkasovo there is an acutely felt mood of transition, characteristic of the feast of the Protection of the Theotokos, celebrated on 14th October. For the people of rural Russia the Pokrov is not just a date in the religious calendar, but an important turning point – marking the first signs of winter’s approach when the earth may be covered by the first, tentative fall of snow, but then the last of the autumn grass bristles up again. This work very subtly conveys the sensation of life in the country as it faces the impending ordeal of frost and bad weather.
The exceptional importance of Autumn in Ochkasovo is also confirmed by the painting’s noteworthy provenance. Soon after it was painted the work was acquired by the Moscow Art Fund of the Union of Artists, which took the best work by the Soviet Union’s most outstanding painters.