Choosing apples signed in Latin (lower right) oil on canvas 71 x 52.6cm (27 15/16 x 20 11/16in).
Provenance: M. Newman Ltd., London; Sotheby's, London, Nineteenth Century European Paintings, Drawings and Watercolours , 16 November 1994, lot 55; Richard Green Ltd; Private collection, England.
Literature: O. Sugrobova-Roth and E. Lingenauber, Alexei Harlamoff: Catalogue raisonné, Edition A. Harlamoff, Düsseldorf, 2007, no. 201, plate 186, p.226, illustrated.
The offered lot is a fine example of the artist's skill at rendering both still lives and young children. The porcelain water jug in the background of the painting is often depicted by the artist in similarly arranged compositions and symbolises the calm, domestic nature of the scenes as well as acting as ornament to the typically modest interiors and backdrops so regularly employed. Apples appear to have been among the favourite fruits of the artist to paint, not least because of the range of hues combined in one fruit, the green and red tones promoting the concept of flourishing and ripening youth. The red flesh of the apple which the youngest girl holds to her cheek suffuses her face with a rosy glow and further serves to highlight Harlamoff's skill in capturing the luminosity of youth. A similar composition with young girls and apples is 'Friends' in The Natural Reserve and Museum of Architecture, Fine Arts and History, Rybinsk (Inv. Ж-216).