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Formerly in the collection of Georges-Marie Haardt, leader of the Citroën Expeditions in Africa, Paris.
Aleksandr Iakovlev (1887-1938) was an exceptional artist and larger than life. No one has been able to describe the artist better than Francine du Plessix Gray, the artist's great niece, in a chapter entitled 'Uncle Sasha' in her book Them: A Memoir of Parents (New York, 2005).
All the quotes and extracts accompanying lots 389-409 have been taken from this book and have been reproduced with her permission.
We are also most grateful to Francine du Plessix Gray for providing us with previously unpublished photographs depicting Aleksandr Iakovlev.
'Born in St Petersburg in 1887, Alexandre Iacovleff, the youngest of my great-grandmother's four children, displayed an eerily precocious gift for drawing and at eighteen entered the Imperial Academy of Art. His skills were noticed early in his career by the most influential Russian painter of his teachers' generation, Alexandr Benois, who write that the young man displayed a "tremendous sensibility to nature...One cannot doubt that [his] talent is phenomenal." While in art school, Iacovleff became fascinated with theater and dance; at the age of twenty-three he married a ravishing stage and cabaret performer, Bella Shensheva (also known as Kazarosa), who was particularly noted for her fiery Spanish gypsy dances. I imagine that Uncle Sasha's liaison with Kazarosa was very shocking to Sasha's prim, strong-willed mother. And it is probably that the alliance was stormy from the start, for in 1913, three years into his marriage, Iacovleff's career as a voyaging artist began.'
ibid., p. 28
Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Exhibition of works by Alexandre Iacovleff, 1926, no. 1 (label on reverse).