Aleksei Petrovich Bogolyubov (Russian, 1824-1896) 'Road along the bank of Őresund. Night view.'

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Lot 7*
Aleksei Petrovich Bogolyubov
(Russian, 1824-1896)
'Road along the bank of Őresund. Night view.'

£ 150,000 - 250,000
US$ 190,000 - 320,000
Aleksei Petrovich Bogolyubov (Russian, 1824-1896)
'Road along the bank of Őresund. Night view.'
signed in Cyrillic (lower left), stretcher with label from Anichkov Palace, inscribed in Cyrillic 'Property of His Imper. Highn. Alexander III, number 271', further inscribed in Cyrillic in yellow oil 'A.D.M. 26103', numbered in pencil '26/760/741' on both stretcher and frame, front of the original frame applied with a plaque numbered '13' and the artist's name
oil on canvas
24 x 31cm (9 7/16 x 12 3/16in).


    Commissioned by Grand Duke Alexander Aleksandrovich (future Emperor Alexander III) in Denmark, summer of 1867
    Presented by Grand Duke Alexander Aleksandrovich to his wife, Grand Duchess Maria Fedorovna on Christmas, December 1867
    Collection of Grand Duchess Maria Fedorovna at Anichkov Palace, St. Petersburg, 1867-early 1870s
    The Imperial Collection at Alexander Palace, Tsarskoe Selo, mid 1870s
    Nationalized as part of the Imperial Collection in 1917
    De-accessioned and transferred to Gosfond Commission and L/O VA/O 'Hotel', Leningrad, 1931
    Acquired by a Swedish engineer in Leningrad, c. 1931
    Thence by descent

    This charming scene of a horse-drawn carriage travelling at night along the bank of Ṏresund, beneath a canopy of majestic tall trees, is a work of fine artistic merit by a celebrated Russian master of the late 19th century, and a painting with remarkable historical provenance. The accomplished artist Aleksei Bogolyubov painted a delightful scene documenting leisurely travels along the tree-lined road leading to the sea shore. The moonlight, breaking through lacy clouds in the sky, casts soft and mysterious shadows on the water and the pass along the bank of the strait. The flickering carriage lights lead the way into the depth of the forest, away from the clearing in the foreground. Ṏresund (more commonly known as the Sound) is one of three Danish straits that connects the Baltic Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, and is one of the busiest waterways in Europe. Only 4 kilometres wide at its narrowest point, it separates the Danish island Zealand and the southern Swedish province of Scania. The present painting was one of many by A. Bogolyubov in the collection of Emperor Alexander II and his wife Maria Fedorovna, who together collected over 800 works of the artist.

    In June 1866, Aleksei Bogolyubov accompanied the Grand Duke Aleksandr Aleksandrovich (future Emperor Alexander III) on his tour across Russia. In the autumn of 1866, Bogolyubov was introduced to Grand Duchess Maria Fedorovna. From 1867 to 1870 Bogolyubov served as a personal art teacher to the Grand Duke and Duchess, and was soon appointed as the Heir's advisor on art collecting. The artist became a close friend of the Grand Duke and his wife, and remained their confidant and art adviser for more than thirty years.

    In the summer of 1867, Aleksei Bogolyubov was scheduled to accompany his patrons on a tour of Germany, France and Denmark, but due to illness was unable to join them until the last leg of their journey. The artist visited Copenhagen, Bernstorf and Klampenberg, where he spent June and July painting from nature and depicting iconic scenes and views of Denmark to be presented to Grand Duchess Maria Fedorovna. The King of Denmark, Maria Fedorovna's father, commissioned Bogolyubov to create a series of friendly caricatures of the Grand Duke and of the entourage of the Prince of Greece. Grand Duke Aleksandr Aleksandrovich also commissioned several works, including the present lot, referenced in all archival documents and correspondence as 'Path along the bank of the Sound (Ṏresund). Night view'. The Grand Duke presented the painting to his wife, Maria Fedorovna, as a Christmas gift in December of 1867. That winter, Grand Duchess Maria Fedorovna wrote to her mother, Queen Louise of Denmark: 'We finally also celebrated Christmas on the 24th according to our calendar... Sasha [Grand Duke Aleksandr] returned around 10pm and we had our own little Christmas celebration. I arranged a small Christmas tree for him in my room with all my gifts to him, and later he took me to his room to give me his gifts; it was quite lovely. He presented me with two small precious paintings by Bogolyubov: one showing the city of Fredensborg, and the other a view of an alley stretching towards the sea' (The State Archive of the Russian Federation, Fond 642, opis' 1, Delo 638, Letter dated December 30, 1867/January 11, 1868). This 'view of an alley stretching towards the sea' is in fact the description of the present lot named by the artist as 'Path along the bank of the Sound. Night view.' Both of the landscapes mentioned in Maria Fedorovna's correspondence with her mother were commissioned by the Grand Duke Aleksandr in the summer of 1867 during the trip to Denmark. The Grand Duke Aleksandr's archives contain no invoice recording a financial transaction of this painting, suggesting that it was most likely a gift from the artist to his Imperial friend and patron.

    Originally exhibited at the Anichkov Palace, the Grand Duke and Duchess' personal residence in St. Petersburg, the present lot was registered and catalogued under the number 13 in the inventory of paintings from the collection of Grand Duchess Maria Fedorovna (State Archive of Russian Federation, Fond 642, Opis' 1, Delo 3328, List 2, reverse side; see fig.3, entry under number 13, Catalogue was published in : R.R. Gafifullin, katalog kartinam, prinadlezhaschim Ego Imperatorskomy Vysoshestvy Gosudariu Nasledniky Tsesarevichy, in Velikii kniaz' Aleksandr Aleksandrovich. Sbornik Dokumentov, Moscow, 2002, page 638-639; the present lot mentioned on page 638, footnote on page 675). That registration number can still be seen on a metal plaque attached to the top of the original frame. In the early 1870s, the present lot was moved to the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoe Selo. It was exhibited in the dining room, called by Emperor Aleksandr III 'Bogolyubov's Gallery,' due to it containing 35 works by the artist (see fig.1).

    In the 1890s, it was entered in the 'Catalogue of Paintings of the Aleksander Palace' under inventory number 271/13 and titled 'Landscape' (The State Hermitage, opis' VII, lit. 'e', delo 16, page 12, reverse side). The reverse side of the present lot is applied with a paper label of the Anichkov Palace and inscribed with abbreviation 'Ts. S.D.' for Tsarsko-Selskii Dvorets (Palace at Tsarskoe Selo), thus documenting that the present painting was exhibited consecutively in both Imperial residences.

    After the Revolution of 1917, the property of the Imperial palaces was nationalized and meticulously documented. The present lot was listed as 'Night Landscape,' under the number 22, in the description of the art collection of the Alexander Palace compiled in 1928, as well as printed in V.I. Yakovlev's 'Aleksandrovskii dvorets-muzei v Detskom sele', Leningrad, 1928, page 185. In the early 1930s, in order to raise foreign currency, Soviet museums were ordered to identify works of art to be sold to foreigners and on the Western art market. As a result, the personal quarters of Emperor Aleksandr III and Empress Maria Fedorovna at the Alexander Palace were closed; their furnishings, personal belongings of the Imperial family including their extensive art collection, were transported to Gosfond Commission in 1931 to be sold to Western buyers. The present lot was given to L/O VA/O 'Hotel' shareholding company, decree number 179 dated June 9, 1931 (Archive of State Historical Museum Tsarskoe Selo, fond III, delo 162, page 27). The inventory number preserved on the back of the frame dates to the 1920s, when the present lot was included in the inventory for sale ('A.D.M 26103'- for Aleksandrovskii Dvorets-Muzei) and moved to State Gosfond Commission (inventory number 26/760/741).

    In the late 1920s a Swedish civil engineer, who oversaw the construction of hydro-electrical stations in Russia in the early 1900s, was invited to the Soviet Union to participate in the reconstruction of Leningrad's harbour and port. During his extensive stay there he purchased a variety of antique furniture, paintings and works of art. It was probably in the early 1930s, just before his return to Sweden, that he acquired some of the furnishings from the Imperial Palaces (according to the family history he was offered them in lieu of the payment for his professional services). The present lot was one of his important acquisitions. It was shipped to Sweden, and remained in the family until it was inherited by his granddaughter and became part of her private collection in the United States.

    We would like to thank Rifat Gafifullin, Curator of the archive at the State Museum Preserve in Pavlovsk, for his kind assistance in researching the history and provenance of the present lot.
Aleksei Petrovich Bogolyubov (Russian, 1824-1896) 'Road along the bank of Őresund. Night view.'
Aleksei Petrovich Bogolyubov (Russian, 1824-1896) 'Road along the bank of Őresund. Night view.'
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