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Isaak Levitan (1860-1900)
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Isaak Levitan (1860-1900)

Evening approaches

Isaak Levitan (1860-1900)
Evening approaches
signed in Cyrillic 'I. Levitan.' (lower left)
oil on canvas
20¾ x 24½ in. (53 x 62.3 cm.)
Painted in 1898
Acquired by A. A. Nazarov in Moscow in 1899.
The art critic and collector Sadajiro Kubo (1909-1996), probably acquired in Paris in the 1930s.
Exhibition catalogue, Katalog XXVII-i Peredvizhnoi Vystavki Kartin [Catalogue of the XXVII Itinerant Exhibition of Paintings], Moscow, 1899, listed p. 7, no. 89.
Exhibition catalogue, Illiustrirovannyi Katalog XXVII-i Peredvizhnoi Vystavki Kartin [Illustrated Catalogue of the XXVII Itinerant Exhibition of Paintings], Moscow, 1899, listed p. XI, no. 89.
S. Glagol' and I. Grabar', Isaak Il'ich Levitan. Zhizn i tvorchestvo [Life and works], Moscow, 1913, listed p. 112.
A. Fedorov-Davydov, Isaak Il'ich Levitan. Documenty, materialy, bibliografiia [Documents, materials, bibliography], Moscow, 1966, listed p. 123, no. 554.
G. Romanov, Tovarishchestvo Peredvizhnykh Khudozhestvennykj Vystavok [Exhibitions of the Society of Itinerant Artists] 1871-1923, St Petersburg, 2003, listed p. 211, no. 3-144.
St Petersburg, Moscow and elsewhere, XXVII Peredvizhnaia Vystavka Kartin [XXVII Itinerant Exhibition of Paintings], 1899, no. 89 (inscription on the stretcher).
Kawasaki Saikaiya, An Exhibition of Western Art, 11-22 June 1960 (label attached to the backboard).

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Sarah Mansfield
Sarah Mansfield

Lot Essay

Amongst the nine paintings shown by Isaak Levitan at the 1899 Society of Itinerants exhibition, which opened in Moscow and then in St Petersburg, was the landscape Evening approaches. It was purchased by the Moscow collector A. A. Nazarov and subsequently disappeared. More than a hundred years later, the painting is once again available to be viewed by admirers of this wonderful landscape artist.
The picture was painted in 1898 in connection with a commission to illustrate the collected works of Pushkin, published by A. I. Mamontov's Moscow Association of Publishing, in honour of the poet's 100 year jubilee to accompany a poem from 1835, ‘I visited once again ...’. The landscape not only illustrates precisely the poet's elegiac lines but is also, more importantly, entirely in tune with the mood of Pushkin's verses. Pushkin remained Levitan's favourite poet. The artist created five illustrations for this edition, all of which appear in the first volume of this three-tome edition.
This painting belongs to the group of works by Levitan, executed in the later and most fruitful years of his creative life. In the lyrical landscapes of this period, Levitan takes particular care with the consonance of nature and the motivations of the human soul. The artist created an entire series of evening, night and moonlit landscapes, the times at which one is most at the mercy of one’s own thoughts, memories, moods. Painted in the final years of his short life, the paintings A Moonlit Night. A large road (1898-1899), Twilight. Haystacks, Haystacks and Twilight (all 1899, State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow) form a distinct cycle and might be referred to as landscape-nocturnes. They share a distinct musicality. The pictorial language of these works is clear and simple. In the present work, Evening approaches, the calm extended movement of the brushstrokes convey the rolling hills of the land. Against the background of the early evening sky, the top of the old pine trees are perceived as simplified shapes but are exquisitely drawn. In this painting and a series of other works, the artist approaches the style of Art Nouveau.
We are grateful to Dr Galina Churak of the State Tretyakov Gallery for providing this note.

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