Russian Wife goes for millions
Published: 02 December, 2011, 11:11
Merchant's Wife by Boris Kustodiev (image from macdougallauction.com)
How does a billionaire become a millionaire? By finding himself a wife, as the joke goes. Merchant's Wife by one of the towering Russian artists of the 20th century, Boris Kustodiev, has sold for nearly $3 million at a MacDougall's London auction.
The painting with a pricey tag is said to be “undoubtedly among Kustodiev’s most iconic works."
The Merchant’s Wife, 1923, was first exposed at the celebrated Russian Art Exhibition at the Grand Central Palace in New York, where it was sold to a private collector. Soon after, it appeared in the pages of the popular German women’s magazine Die Dame. Then, sadly, it remained out of public view until 1998, when it sold successfully at Sotheby’s.
In fact, the celebrated Russian artist with an eye for female sensuality and ripe beauty created a series of portraits of merchant’s wives, depicting them drinking tea, taking a walk or sleeping.
His pictures of the early 1920s, painted at a time of tumultuous and dramatic events in Russia, in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution, play a far more symbolic role than would seem at first sight. Soaked in nostalgia for the dignified patriarchal society that had by then gone forever, these bright female portraits serve as a symbol of early 20th-century Russia.
Kustodiev had long strived to create a universal image of Russian beauty. When found it, he was already an established artist, recognizable for his creative energy and use of full-blooded colors.
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