Ivan Pokhitonov (1850-1923)
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Ivan Pokhitonov (1850-1923)

The hunter

Ivan Pokhitonov (1850-1923)
The hunter
signed 'I Pokitonow' (lower right)
oil on panel
8 x 13¾ in. (20.3 x 34.9 cm.)
with Vose Galleries, Boston, 1981 (inventory no. 26667).
Acquired from the above by the current owner.
Special notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium

Lot Essay

This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné prepared by Olivier Bertrand.

On just such a day I was once out grouse-shooting in the Chernov District of the province of Tula. I started and shot a fair amount of game; my full game-bag cut my shoulder mercilessly; but already the evening glow had faded, and the cool shades of twilight were beginning to grow thicker and to spread across the sky, which was still bright, though no longer lighted up by the rays of the setting sun...
Ivan Turgenev, A Hunter's Sketches, Bezhin Meadow

The unsurpassed master of miniature paintings, Ivan Pavlovich Pokhitonov spent much of his life in France and Belgium, with his beloved sister Anastasia Pavlovna. He often returned to Russia, spending long periods at his estate, Zhabovshchizna, near Minsk, as well as in his native province of Kherson. Loving to spend time in nature, the artist never missed a chance to hunt. The hunting landscapes of the Ukrainian steppe, evoked in Turgenev's works, the late twilight motifs, with their quiet and calm, show us the artist's inimitable craftsmanship in the mature period of his creativity.

Many Russian artists were inveterate hunters, among them such masters of landscape painting as I. I. Levitan and K. A. Korovin. Hunters are special people. It is not just the catch that attracts them to hunting, but the passion to be in nature..., wrote Korovin (Konstantin Korovin remembers, Moscow, 1990, p. 455). Pokhitonov's The Hunter is a shining example of a painting embodying the mood of Turgenev's stories - with attention to seasonal changes in the surrounding landscape, the differences between the morning and evening atmosphere, the air in the woods and over the lakes. The painting provides an ordinary scene: the hunter, ensconced in the reeds by the lake, patiently awaits the careless duck. The morning mist cloaks the features of the surrounding landscape, the diffuse light muffles the colours. Each tiny gradation is essential to the artist in conveying the subject's unique state and mood in commune with nature.
Pokhitonov's hunting scenes are always emotionally charged, moving, and nostalgic. For the expatriate, they are reminiscences of the old Russian landowner's way of life, now consigned to the past.

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