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Vladimir Orlovsky (1842-1914)

A spring day in Ukraine

Vladimir Orlovsky (1842-1914)
A spring day in Ukraine
signed and dated 'V. Orlovskii. 82' (lower right)
oil on canvas
31½ x 67¼ in. (80 x 170.8 cm.)
Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, London, 24 November 1992, lot 71.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.

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Lot Essay

Born into a noble family, Vladimir Orlovsky received his early artistic education in Kiev. After he initially trained in drawing under T. G. Shevchenko in St. Petersburg, Orlovsky enrolled at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in 1861, where he studied under the renowned landscape painter, Aleksei Bogoliubov. Upon graduation in 1868 he was awarded a gold medal from the Academy, as well as a multi-year travel scholarship, which enabled him to travel to France, Italy, Germany and Switzerland. During his travels he studied the paintings of European Masters and developed a preference for painting en plein air, which was then becoming a popular painting method among artists in Western Europe. In 1874, he became an Academician at the Academy of Fine Arts, and thereafter painted primarily the landscapes of the Russian Empire up until his emigration to Italy in 1909. During his lifetime Orlovsky was a well-known artist whose works were in the collections of Moscow and St. Petersburg aristocrats and the Tsar.

A spring day in Ukraine is an important work completed during a decade when Orlovsky made frequent trips to Crimea. Orlovsky's romantic juxtaposition of the long horizontal shadows with the warm sunlight, which highlights many of the charming figures and objects of the farmstead, demonstrates his great interest in the effects of light. It is both the artist's attention to detail and the particular effect of light on a scene that make each of his Ukrainian landscapes unique. While Orlovsky was enjoying significant success in his career, he was given significant attention in F. E. Bulgakov's book on Russian artists, in which his motifs are described as: 'highly varied, especially in the landscapes with the effects of the southern sun from Ukraine. The overflowing ponds, fields and cornfields, Cossack farmsteads, motifs from along the Dneiper river, birch groves, and plundered forests, the effects of evening illuminated all this is interpreted by the artist in a great number of works'.

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