Ivan Pavlovich Pokhitonov (Ukrainian, 1850-1923) Two hunters in a landscape

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Lot 20*
Ivan Pavlovich Pokhitonov
(Ukrainian, 1850-1923)
Two hunters in a landscape

Sold for £ 98,500 (US$ 119,585) inc. premium
Property from the estate of John M. Kauffmann, Yarmouth, ME
Ivan Pavlovich Pokhitonov (Ukrainian, 1850-1923)
Two hunters in a landscape
signed in Latin (lower right)
oil on panel
21.3 x 35cm (8 3/8 x 13 3/4in).


  • Literature
    Olivier Bertrand, Ivan Pokhitonov catalogue raisonné, 2015, vol. 1, no. C 55, p. 189.

    The Ivan Pokhitonov Authentication Committee, directed by Olivier Bertrand, has examined the present painting in laboratory and has confirmed its authenticity.

    John Michael Kauffmann is considered one of this country's leading conservation pioneers. His twenty years of work for the National Park Service resulted in the protection of huge tracts of land in Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio and Alaska – including both the Gates of the Arctic National Park and the Noatak National Preserve which, combined, form one of the world's largest areas of designated wilderness.

    John was born in Champagne, Illinois but grew up in Washington, D.C. He summered in Stark, New Hampshire where again, he quietly protected thousands of acres of land, a portion of which is now known as the Kauffmann Forest. He was also instrumental in saving thousands of additional New Hampshire acres which were put under the protection of the New Hampshire Forest Society.

    John authored numerous articles and several books most notably Flow East: A Look at our North Atlantic Rivers, 1973, and Alaska's Brooks Range: The Ultimate Mountains, 2005.

    John's other great passion was collecting. He started at an early age, when he joined his mother in her travels across Europe and the United States. Later, as a Courier for the Diplomatic Service in the 1940's, his acquisitions varied yet complimented his diverse interests as well as his engagement with the environment.

    John's legacy in conservation and the environment continues today, with all proceeds from the sale of his collection intended to benefit not-for-profit conservation organizations.


    Ivan Pokhitonov, born in 1850 to a large military family in Ukraine, was arguably one of the most successful and distinctive artists of the Russian Wanderers. His work is remarkable for its incredibly detailed depiction of rich landscapes on a miniature scale.

    Pokhitonov skillfully depicted the nuances of nature, finding poetry and elegance in the quotidian. A lover of nature and an avid hunter himself, Pokhitonov was unique in that he simultaneously embodied the style of Russian landscape painters and the French nineteenth century masters. His miniature landscapes are marked by the orderly beauty of their compositions and their refined color palettes, setting them apart from the work of his contemporaries.

    In the present painting, Two hunters in a landscape, Pokhitonov depicted one of his favorite genres, that of the hunt. As was characteristic for the artist, the composition is carefully balanced. The vast sky, occupying nearly half of the minute scene, is grounded by a delicately rendered landscape. The clouds, close to the horizon, together with the vertical elements of the painting, help to draw the viewer's eye to the action: two hunters wait with lowered rifles as their dogs search for fowl in the brush. The color palette is marked by pale grays, blues, greens and browns, while soft tones yellow tones help to communicate a diffused sense of light. On close inspection, it becomes evident that the airy work is painted with immense detail. The thin, light brushstrokes convey the nuances of the scene and the three dimensionality of the figures.

    Pokhitonov perfected his technique of capturing landscapes on a miniature scale by the 1880s, developing a method he continued to use through the end of his life. Painting on small, prepared panels, the artist would use thin, delicate brushes, applying light strokes with an arsenal of specialized tools including palette knives, fish bones, and scalpels, often using a magnifying glass and wearing a set of double spectacles. This highly specialized technique allowed the artist to create these exquisitely detailed landscapes.

    Although miniature landscapes were not particularly popular among the Russian public in the late nineteenth century, Pokhitonov's work was praised by Russian masters and collectors. Vasily Polenov and Alexey Bogolyubov, who went on to become the artist's mentor, greatly admired his work, and Ilya Repin was completely enraptured with the miniatures, writing, "This is some kind of magician-artist, so masterful, so skillfully done; the way he paints, is impossible to understand ... A magician!" (Ivan Pokhitonov, Magician-artist, State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Pinakoteka, 2010, p. 6). The renowned art patron and collector Pavel Tretyakov so loved Pokhitonov's work that he acquired twenty-three of his paintings.

    Pokhitonov's work was also particularly loved in the West. The artist's French dealer, Georges Petit, often sold his works shortly after their completion, frequently to important American collectors. Many of the artist's works, including the present painting, consequently remained in private collections for decades after. In Two hunters in a landscape, Pokhitonov communicates both the nuances of the natural landscape and the tension of the hunting scene; it is an exceptional example of the artist's ability to depict exquisitely detailed, miniature scenes.
Ivan Pavlovich Pokhitonov (Ukrainian, 1850-1923) Two hunters in a landscape
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