Vasili Aleksandrovich Kotarbinsky (Russian, 1849-1921) A collection of sketches and studies, circa 1887-1900 size of largest: 26 x 46cm (10 1/4 x 18 1/8in).
Lot 8
Vasili Aleksandrovich Kotarbinsky
(Russian, 1849-1921)
A collection of sketches and studies, circa 1887-1900 size of largest: 26 x 46cm (10 1/4 x 18 1/8in).
Sold for £11,250 (US$ 17,570) inc. premium

Lot Details
Vasili Aleksandrovich Kotarbinsky (Russian, 1849-1921) A collection of sketches and studies, circa 1887-1900 size of largest: 26 x 46cm (10 1/4 x 18 1/8in). Vasili Aleksandrovich Kotarbinsky (Russian, 1849-1921) A collection of sketches and studies, circa 1887-1900 size of largest: 26 x 46cm (10 1/4 x 18 1/8in). Vasili Aleksandrovich Kotarbinsky (Russian, 1849-1921) A collection of sketches and studies, circa 1887-1900 size of largest: 26 x 46cm (10 1/4 x 18 1/8in). Vasili Aleksandrovich Kotarbinsky (Russian, 1849-1921) A collection of sketches and studies, circa 1887-1900 size of largest: 26 x 46cm (10 1/4 x 18 1/8in).
Vasili Aleksandrovich Kotarbinsky (Russian, 1849-1921)
A collection of sketches and studies, circa 1887-1900
one with inscription on verso in Cyrillic 'Sepia sketches by Wilhelm Alexandrovich Kotarbinskiy Authorised N. Prakhov 10/IX 1946'
sepia ink
size of largest: 26 x 46cm (10 1/4 x 18 1/8in).
(25)

Footnotes

  • PROVENANCE
    Prakhov family collection, Kiev (Nikolai Adrianovich Prakhov, 1873-1957)
    Private collection, Prague

    Wilhelm Kotarbinskiy was a painter and graphic artist of both historical and fantastical genres, one of the earliest Russian symbolists and a prominent 'art nouveau' artist. He studied at the Warsaw drawing school and in the Academia di San Luca in Rome (1872 -1875), where he earned the title of the 'Foremost Draughtsman of Rome' and a silver medal. He lived in Rome and, from 1887, in Kiev. Upon invitation from Professor Adrian Prakhov (1846-1916) he participated, along with other artists (Vasnetsov, Vrubel', Nesterov and the Svedomskiy brothers) in the painting of frescoes in the St. Vladimir Cathedral in Kiev, where he created a number of compositions which helped him become one of the most famous Russian artists. He was awarded the St Stanislaus order, 2nd degree and in 1905 elected Academic of the Imperial Academy of Art. He was in demand among the Kiev nouveau riche as a decorator and worked on the houses of Tereshchenko, Khanenko and Soldatenkov.

    A major influence on the artist's creative development was his relationship with the family of Adrian Prakhov. In the preserved memoirs of Nikolai Prakhov, Professor Adrian Prakhov's son, he describes the origin of Kotarbinskiy's sketches and drawings:

    He drew everything he saw and everything that was conjured in his imagination: male and female faces, flowers, leaves, landscapes, ancient motifs .... Long strands of Whatman paper were covered on both sides with tens of varying compositions of future sepia drawings. Kotarbinskiy's sepia drawings were created under the following circumstances: upon completion of the work in the Vladimir Cathedral in Kiev, 'homeless artists' (the Svedomskiy brothers and Kotarbinskiy) visited my father and me for lunch.

    During lunch, while discussing their upcoming projects, consumed by arguments about art, they created illustrations right there on the tablecloth. The tablecloth had to be changed every day, my mother [Emilia Prakhova] found this to be inconvenient and, one time, gave them each a sheet of Alexandrian paper. Kotarbinskiy took his sheet into the drawing room and started creating compositions while diluting the black ink with water .... After that he tried to work using sepia the warm tones of which he preferred to the colder tones. Ancient world and mysticism intertwine in these sepia drawings, each one different from the next by the depth, or lightness of colour and technique .... The exhibition of Wilhelm Alexandrovich Kotarbinskiy in Saint-Petersburg, at the Academy of Art in 1900 contained over 150 sepias and was very successful
    (N.A. Prakhov, Stranitsy Proshlogo (Pages of the Past), - Kiev, 1958, pp 302-303).

    Kotarbinskiy was in love with the daughter of Adrian Prakhov, Elena (1872-1948) to whom he dedicated many of his sepia fantasies. Many of them are reminiscent of the works by Mikhail Vrubel, who visited the Prakhov family around the same time. During one of those visits he drew a portrait of Adrian Viktorovich's wife, Emilia Prakhova, whom he worshipped.

    During the Revolution, after Kiev was captured by the Bolsheviks, Kotarbinskiy's flat had been searched on a number of occasions, he was left destitute. He received an offer from Emilia Prakhova and moved to their house where he lived until his death in 1921.

    Here Kotarbinskiy's collection of works on paper, of such magnitude and quality, is available on the international art market for the first time. Its irreproachable provenance and exceptional artistic merits are, without a doubt, incredibly important for the history of both Russian and Ukrainian art.
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