Satisfied with life signed and dated '1903' (lower left) oil on canvas 144.8 x 129.5cm (57 x 51in).
PROVENANCE: World's Fair, St. Louis, 1904 Purchased by Frank C. Havens, 1912 Purchased from above by M.H. de Young, 1917 Gift from above to M.H. de Young Museum, San Francisco, February 2, 1918 Collection of M.H. de Young Museum, San Francisco, February 2, 1918 - June 1, 1943 Corporate collection, California Acquired from the above by present owner
EXHIBITED: World's Fair, St. Louis, 1904, No.77 The Piedmont Gallery, Piedmont, CA 1912-1917 Owned by Frank C. Havens, Piedmont, CA, 1912-1917 M.H. de Young Museum, San Francisco, until 1943
LITERATURE: Official Catalogue of Exhibits, Department of Art, Universal Exposition, St. Louis, 1904, No. 77, page 281 The Frank C. Havens Collection of Paintings, from the Piedmont Gallery, Auction catalogue, 1917, number 87
In 1904, six hundred Russian paintings were shipped across the Atlantic to represent Russian art at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (World's Fair) in St. Louis and then seemed to disappear. The thrilling story of their adventures, misfortunes, and that of the eventual sale as 'unclaimed merchandise' is well-known. Seized as property brought into the US with violations of the American customs regulations, the collection was impounded by the US Treasury Department and eventually offered for sale in a highly publicized public auction in San Francisco in 1912, where the majority of works were acquired by Frank C. Havens (1848-1917), property developer and wealthy businessman from Oakland.
The offered painting was one of several works sent by Martsely Sukhorovky, a successful academic painter who established his reputation as a painter of glamorous portraits and large-scale nudes. Often exhibited in theatrical settings, his paintings enjoyed enormous popularity and publicity at exhibitions in Russia, Germany and England. His sensational display of Nana, Mary Magdalena, and Female slave at the harem attracted enthusiastic crowds of visitors and received extensive press coverage.
The present work displays the pictorial quality and seductive realism for which the artist was widely celebrated. The catalogue of the collection of the de Young Museum notes that the painting 'shows a young woman in a robe of white silk seated in front of a wall of tapestries. Both hands are clasped behind her head, and her pose is one of languorous ease. Her slow smile and the almost feline comfort of her lazy pose indicate that the beauty of life for her evidently deals principally with contentment and ease. The texture of her white gown and contrasting darkness of the tapestry are well handled' (The M.H.M. de Young Memorial Museum Catalogue, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California, 1921, description of the Picture Gallery 29).
Exhibited at the Mr. Frank C. Havens Gallery in Piedmont, CA, for several years the painting was eventually auctioned off in October 1917, and presumably acquired by Mr. Michael Henry de Young (1849-1925), proprietor of the San Francisco Chronicle and founder of the de Young Museum in San Francisco. It was exhibited for a number of years in gallery 29 until it was sold in 1943.