Yuri Annenkov (1889-1974)
Yuri Annenkov (1889-1974)

Still life

Yuri Annenkov (1889-1974)
Still life
signed 'G. Annenkoff.' (lower right)
oil on canvas
28½ x 45 3/8 in. (72.4 x 115 cm.)
Painted circa 1930
Jean Paul Delmas (1903-1988) and Gladys Krieble Delmas (1913-1991).
Part of gifts and bequests from the above to Vassar College, 1988-1991.
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Iona Ballantyne
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Lot Essay

Yuri Anennkov initially moved to Paris around 1911, upon the advice of his teacher Jan Ciaglinski (1858-1913), with whom he trained while enrolled at the University of St Petersburg. Annenkov first exhibited his works in 1913 at the Société des Artistes Indépendants, and then returned to Russia in 1914, where he would stay for a decade, working predominantly with the theatre, creating works that were profoundly inspired by French Cubism. He would then leave Soviet Russia for Europe in 1924, settling in France for the remainder of his life.
Upon Annenkov’s arrival in Paris in September 1924, he immediately immersed himself in the artistic life of the city and began to actively exhibit his works. Subsequently, his painting style changed radically. Not a trace of neo-academic precision of line remained. Now, the subjects, like their general surroundings, were modelled with multiple brushstrokes and heavy impasto. Outlines were simplified, often stripped down to a simple schematic line. There was not the slightest attempt to convey the texture or material of an object, i.e. whether the object was wood or metal was immaterial. Interiors and cityscapes were, as a rule, deserted. Typically, interiors featured only a table, chairs, or a ceiling lamp – giving the impression of an empty room with just a few sticks of furniture.  The theme can also be found in the graphic works of the period, where Annenkov even refused to add colour to enliven austere black and white furniture. Equally dejected stand the leafless trees of Annenkov’s cityscapes. In the portraits from the period psychological nuances are absent and the manner of execution has a child-like quality.
Annenkov’s new paintings were a success and he rose in prominence as a Parisian artist, frequently exhibiting in prestigious galleries such as Billiet or Bing on rue Boétie, overlooking the Champs-Élysées, and others. From 1928 solo exhibitions followed one after another and in the years 1929-1932 exhibitions were well-received in the USA (Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco, Chicago), where Annenkov’s work was purchased by a variety of museum and private collectors.
All three works relate to a brief, but bright period in Annenkov’s oeuvre. In 1933 he was approached to work in the cinema as a costumier. He quickly achieved success in that sphere and barely returned to his easel in his free time and even more rarely participated in exhibitions.
Jean Paul Delmas was a successful publisher and businessman with a great passion for the humanities and the performing arts. Delmas most likely acquired these three paintings directly from Yuri Annenkov in 1930. In 1937, he married Gladys Krieble with whom he would share a life-long passion for the arts.  The Delmas’s spent their life together living in between Europe, the United States and Latin America. Collectors of rare books and Modern art, they were predominantly known for their patronage of the arts and education, supporting major cultural institutions in New York. Gladys Krieble Delmas, a graduate of Vassar College, bequeathed these three paintings to the school upon her death. 

We would like to thank Irina Obuchowa-Zelinska PhD, author of numerous publications on Annenkov, for providing this note.

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