• Russian Art auction at Christies

    Sale 2308

    Russian Art

    23 April 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 17

    Alexandre Iacovleff (1887-1938)

    The visit of the lama

    Price Realised  


    Alexandre Iacovleff (1887-1938)
    The visit of the lama
    signed and dated 'A Iacovleff/1933.' (lower left)
    oil on canvas
    42 x 35½ in. (107 x 90.2 cm.)

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    Following his success as the official artist for André Citroën's African expedition La Croisière Noire, in 1925, Alexandre Iacovleff was chosen to record a second expedition through Central Asia along the Silk Road, called La Croisière Jaune. Iacovleff completed The visit of the lama in 1933 just after his return to Paris from the Trans-Asiatic expedition.

    The visit of the lama was likely based upon a sketch that Iacovleff executed during the group's travel to Mongolia early in 1932. During their time in Mongolia, the travelers witnessed an important visit of the spiritual leader, the Pantchen Lama (known as the 'living Buddha') to the court of a Mongolian Prince, His Hsu-ning. In his account from the expedition, Georges Lefèvre describes in detail the elaborate costumes of the Mongolian nobles who had traveled to receive the blessings of the Pantchen Lama and the lasting impression the event had made on their group: 'We had been permitted a glimpse of Imperial China--the old China which these Mongols had formerly ruled. Though we got no more than a glimpse of them their images will not fade from our memory.' While it is uncertain whether the lama that Iacovleff chose to depict in the present lot is the Pantchen Lama, the headdress of the standing figure informs us that the figure is a female member of the Mongolian aristocracy and the fur collar and hat worn by the seated figure in the center suggest that he is a Mongolian prince as his costume closely matches the descriptions of the princes in Lefèvre's account.


    The artist's studio.
    with Robert C. Vose, Boston as 'Mongols' (label attached to the stretcher).
    with Maxwell Galleries, San Francisco as 'Mongols' (label attached to the frame).
    Acquired by C. J. Fraslin from the above.
    By descent to the present owner.


    L. Vogel, Dessins et peintures d'Asie, exécutés au cours de l'Expédition Citröen Centre-Asie; troisième mission, Paris, 1934, pl. 41.
    C. Haardt de la Baume, Alexandre Iacovleff, l'artiste voyageur, Paris, 2000, illustrated p. 141.