'Larionov did not paint, but saw in an Impressionistic way' wrote Nikolai Punin in his article on the early works of Larionov. In the 1900s, Larionov, the founder of the Russian avant-garde experimented with impressionist and post-impressionist techniques before developing his own style. In Larionov's early work 'Red Rocks' the impressionistic approach (with its powerful brushstrokes and pastel palette) is enriched by the artist's own method of chromatic organisation of the composition. The painting appears to be a study for a larger oil known as 'Sunset on the Black Sea' sold at Sotheby's, London on 31 May 2006, (lot 84), which in turn appears to have been inspired by Claude Monet's 'Pyramids at Port-Coton, Rough Sea' (1886, Pushkin Museum, Moscow), formerly in the collection of Sergei Shchukin.
The impressive collections of modern French art cultivated by Shchukin and his contemporary, Ivan Morozov (1871-1921), were a source of artistic inspiration for Russian artists stifled by their academic training. Larionov is known to have studied Shchukin's collection, including works by Cézanne, van Gogh, Monet and Gauguin, on a number of occasions. Undoubtedly these sessions provided stimuli for the dynamic creative period that was to follow; Larionov swiftly became one of the most significant figures of the Russian avant-garde.