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Overgrown Pond
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Overgrown Pond
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About the item

Painted at the height of Levitans career, Overgrown Pond is one of three known oils bearing this title and dating from 1887-1888. As with many of his most acclaimed works, such as Cool Breeze, The Volga (1895, State Tretyakov Gallery), Levitan occasionally painted more than one finished version to establish the most successful depiction of a scene. Given the similarities in composition, the present lot must be a reworking of the 1887 painting at the State Russian Museum (fig.2). The modest size of the latter (32 by 40.5cm) and the fact that it was painted on paper suggests that it may have been executed en plein air as a study. Although compositionally different, the version at the Vasily Polenov Museum-Reserve, also smaller in size (35 by 51cm), shares the same understated palette of greens and yellow as the present lot. In the 1890s Levitan executed another series on this subject, this time in watercolours and pastels, one of which was sold in these rooms in June 2015.\n\nAs a student at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1873-1885), Levitan encountered Vasily Polenovs magnum opus Overgrown Pond (fig.3) at the 7th Itinerant Exhibition, which went on view at the School in April 1879. Such was Levitan's appreciation for the work that he was inspired to paint Desolate Pond in emulation, exhibiting it at the student exhibition only months later. It is tempting to attribute Levitans renewed interest in the subject in 1887 to his visit to Polenovs dacha in Zhukovka, west of Moscow, in the summer of that year.\n\nOvergrown Pond was one of six paintings by Levitan exhibited at the Vystavka russkoi zhivopisi dvukh poslednikh stoletii in Riga in December 1932. The exhibition was organised by Akropolis, the group founded by Eugene Klimoff (1901 1990) with the aim of encouraging the appreciation of Russian art. At least 43 paintings were loaned by Leo Maskovsky, including the present lot and another painting by Levitan from 1888 entitled Watermill, Sunset (fig.4). Maskovsky was a Russian émigré who settled in Riga after the Revolution and acquired an important collection of late-19th and early-20th century Russian paintings in the 1920s. He sold most of his collection in the 1930s before emigrating to Munich with only the smaller canvases. Following Maskovsky's death in 1972, his widow sold the remainder of the collection including the present lot in a series of auctions held at Christies London on 5 October 1989 and Christies Geneva on 17 May 1994.\nSigned in Cyrillic and dated 88 l.r. 
GB
GB
GB

medium

Oil on canvas

creator

Levitan, I.I.

condition

Structural Condition The artist's canvas appears lined and is securely attached to a relatively new, keyed wooden stretcher. The canvas is slightly slack and undulates in places. Paint Surface The paint surface has a relatively even and discoloured varnish layer. There is also evidence of surface dirt and the painting would respond well to cleaning. There are intermittent historic paint losses close to the left edge including within the lower branches of the trees where the white ground is exposed. There are also a few further scattered minor paint losses within the composition. Inspection under ultra-violet light confirms the discoloured varnish layer. Inspection under ultra-violet light also shows scattered retouchings, including: 1) a number of small retouchings within the sky in the upper right quadrant of the composition including close to the edges, 2) small intermittent spots and lines of retouching on and close to the left edge including within the water towards the lower left corner, and 3) a diagonal line of retouching near the fringe of the pale green tree in the upper right quadrant of the composition. Summary The painting would therefore appear to be in relatively good condition and would benefit from cleaning, restoration and revarnishing. "This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

dimensions

42 by 66.5cm, 16 1/2 by 26 1/4 in.

exhibition

Riga, Riga City Art Museum, Vystavka russkoi zhivopisi dvukh poslednikh stoletii, 4-18 December 1932, no.98

literature

Exhibition catalogue Vystavka russkoi zhivopisi dvukh poslednikh stoletii, Riga, 1932, p.26, no.98 listed as Zarosshy prud

provenance

Collection of Leo Maskovsky (?-1972), Riga and Munich Christie's Geneva, Russian Objects and Paintings, 17 May 1994, lot 190

signedDate

Signed in Cyrillic and dated 88 l.r. 

artist_range_end

1900

artist_range_start

1860

creator_nationality_dates

1860 - 1900


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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