These two landscapes by the remarkable artist and professional sailor Aleksei Bogoliubov are true to life, poetic and date from the epoch of his career. They are painted in a free artistic manner, most likely in the 1870s.
At the centre of the first landscape is an anchored single-mast ship. The sail of the fishing vessel is full with wind, at the stern and mast tricolor Dutch flags are waving. On the horizon, in a haze, there are vague outlines of towers, buildings and mills. Most likely it is the Amsterdam port which Bogoluibov first visited in 1850 as an officer of the Imperial yacht ‘Kamchatka’. In the summer of 1870, already an artist, he accompanied Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich on a journey around Northern Europe. They spent a few days in July in the Netherlands and visited Harlem, Saardam, The Hague and Scheveningen as well as Amsterdam. Between official receptions and visits to museums the artist also managed to sketch. Later, in the studio, he created paintings on the basis of these drawings: a drawing of Dutch fishing boats, one of a huge collection of drawings and watercolours by Bogoliubov held in The Radishchev State Art Museum in Saratov.
In the other paiting, we see one of Bogoliubov’s favourite motifs: a sea-view of the outskirts of Naples. The composition is structured analogously: in the centre, a two-masted sailing yacht is placed against the blue sky, on the far left, a smoking Vesuvius, on the right, the lively bank of the port city. On the deck of this pleasure craft are the figures of travellers and rowers. Bogoliubov’s style in both maritime scenes is apparent not only in the mastery of the ships but also in the details: the energetically painted figures, the ubiquitous seagulls over the water, buoys and small boats, the sun’s rays shimmering on the surface of the sea, which reflects the colours of the sails.
A romantic perception of nature in these paintings combines here with an accurate observation of different ships, distinguished by a rich palette and range of colour. The artist’s contemporary, the composer and art connoisseur Alexander Serov (1820-1871) rightly wrote: 'All of Bogoliubov's landscapes are excellent. If he paints Constantinople, it’s Constantinople, if Rome, then Rome, if Naples then Naples. And in his selection of location there is a great deal of poetic sensation’.
We are grateful to Liudmila Pashkova of The Radishchev State Art Museum, Saratov, for providing this note.