The bull cart signed 'Grigorescu' (lower left) oil on canvas 13 x 22in (33 x 55.8cm)
PROVENANCE: Private collection, Arizona; Thence by descent into the family; Acquired by the present owner from the above, circa 1995.
Nicolae Grigorescu was born in 1838 in the village of Pitaru in the South of Romania. After his father's death in 1843, he moved to Bucharest with his mother and siblings, where he soon began an apprenticeship with the Czech miniaturist and icon painter Anton Chladek. During this time, he executed icons for churches and monasteries, among them, a fresco cycle for Agapia monastery, which attracted the attention of Mihail Kogalniceanu, the future Romanian Prime Minister. At his behest, the young Grigorescu received a scholarship for studies in Paris.
In 1861 Grigorescu enrolled in the studio of Sebastien Cornu in Paris, thus following the traditional path of the young artist who strives to achieve recognition and establish a career as an academic painter. Among his colleagues was Auguste Renoir. Very soon, however, he decided to leave Cornu's studio and abandon the privileges he would have obtained in Romania as his graduate, and join the group of painters working in the village of Barbizon near the Fontainbleau forest.
The influence of the French painters on Grigorescu was immediate and profound. Absorbing Jean-Francois Millet's renderings of peasants in the fields, Corot's trees and Troyon's animals, Grigorescu discovered his own preoccupation and love for the simple peasants, their uncomplicated life and strong physical presence. Working in plein-air, he developed his own language for landscapes, which would constitute his main motive for years to come.
As his style matured, Grigorescu departed from Millet's pensive, idealized peasants in favor of the real-life figures in their modest environment, leading an ox cart or shepherding sheep, which were characteristic to Romanian rural life at that time. His paintings document simple activities in which his peasants happily participate, expressing their joy and optimism for a life they truly enjoy.
In 1867 Grigorescu participated with seven paintings in the Universal Exhibition of Paris and showed one painting at the 1868 Salon de Paris. He traveled frequently to Romania but continued to live and work in France until 1890. He then returned to Romania, where he devoted his work to his beloved pastoral themes, such as portraits of peasant women, ox carts on dusty country roads and rural landscapes.
Grigorescu is considered the founder of modern Romanian painting and a role model for the following generations of artists, who have wholeheartedly embraced his unique values of Romanian spirituality.
Please note that this work is inscribed with a statement of authenticity by Jean Alexandru Steriadi dated March 14, 1943. (Certific autenticitatea acestui tablou/ de N. Grigorescu./ J. Al. Steriadi/ Buc. 14. III. 943)
Painting is sold unframed.
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