Pencil and pastel on brown paper, laid on cardboard, 45 by 50 cm
Provenance: Collection of I. Angenitski, Kiev, inscription on the reverse.
Nathan Altman painted the present work around 1907–1908, a period from which hardly any work has survived. His oil painting of 1908, Spring, done in his birth-place, Vinnitsa, is widely known, as is the analogous 1909 pastel from the former Ezrakh collection (now in the State Peterhof Museum Reserve). The support, materials and technique of the Peterhof pastel are absolutely comparable to the work now on offer.
Like Boris Grigoriev, Altman, before the period of his “sharp-edged” compositions, used Impressionist techniques for a short while, as did many Western and Russian masters. Altman’s somewhat unusual Impressionism, with an admixture of Divisionism, was an intermediate stage, developing in the artist the poetry of colour and an inclination towards uncomplicated compositions, which did not encounter its fully-fledged version among the artist’s mature works. Thus, in the early 1910s, Altman, experimenting with colour and form, arrived at his energetic, even somewhat Expressionist style, which is in certain respects similar to the work of the well-known German artist Franz Marc.
The immediacy of Altman’s early work has an undoubted appeal, allowing us to trace the sources of his art and its basis in the context of Russian and European painting of the first quarter of the 20th century.