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Filipp Maliavin (1869-1940)
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 2… Read more Property from a Private American Collection 
Filipp Maliavin (1869-1940)

The shawl seller

Filipp Maliavin (1869-1940)
The shawl seller
signed 'Ph. Maliavine' (lower right)
oil on canvas
28½ x 45½ in. (72.2 x 115.5 cm.)
Acquired in France by a private collector circa 1916.
By descent to the present owner.
Special Notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Lot Essay

Finally we see a talent not bound by a Chinese slipper, but boldly and joyfully prancing about.

Alexandre Benois

Born into a peasant family in the Kazanki village of the Orenburgskaia province, Filipp Maliavin studied icon painting at the monastery of St Panteleimon on Mount Athos, where his talent was first recognised by the sculptor Vladimir Beklemishev. Beklemishev convinced Maliavin to move to St Petersburg and secured the young artist's enrolment into the Academy of Fine Arts, where he proceeded to study under the tutelage of the famous Russian realist Ilya Repin. While Maliavin was still a student, the prominent art collector Pavel Tretyakov acknowledged the young artist's precocious talents and purchased two of his paintings.

The vibrantly-coloured The shawl seller was painted by Maliavin prior his emigration to Paris in 1922. By 1900 the artist was well known to the Parisian art scene following his presentation that year of Laughter (1899, Modern Art Museum, Venice) at the World Exhibition. Laughter determined the artist's distinctive style and his penchant for depicting colourful peasant scenes. Maliavin's treatment of the subject has been often praised by critics and it has become emblematic of the artist's signature style as seen in Whirlwind (1906, State Tretyakov Gallery).

The technique used in The shawl seller reflects Maliavin's predilection for thick brushstrokes and the use of a bold colour palette. This combination creates a striking colouristic impression that characterise his works on the theme of Russian folk women. The composition is permeated by a chromatic dynamism which emerges from the combination of bright pinks, greens and reds in the pattern of the shawl, which occupies a significant portion of the canvas. Of particular effect is Maliavin's use of contre-jour light captured with vibrant brush strokes that draw the viewer's attention to the colourful shawl, briskly advertised by the seller to an uncertain buyer. Maliavin's playful use of light and shade also serves to emphasize the background figures of the horse-drawn open carriages. Here the darker silhouettes echo the horizontal rhythm of the shawl, stretched wide in the hands of the seller. Fabric becomes an important element of the composition as we move our eyes from the shawl to the billowing skirt of the buyer on the right. The sense of movement of the woman's body is achieved almost exclusively through the curving motion of her garments. Similarly, the standoff between the buyer and the seller is reflected in the chromatic contrast between the fiery tones of the shawl and the subdued, darker hues of the buyer's skirt. The tonal choices made in the composition, as well as the use of bold, decisive brushstrokes in defining the elements of the scene demonstrate Maliavin's expert use of motion and texture in his visual narratives.

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