IVAN SHISHKIN (1832-1898)
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Ivan Shishkin (1832-1898)

River on the edge of a wood

Details
Ivan Shishkin (1832-1898)
River on the edge of a wood
signed in Cyrillic and dated '1882/I. Shishkin' (lower right)
oil on canvas
13¼ x 22 5/8 in. (33.5 x 57.5 cm.)
Provenance
Acquired by the previous owner in Japan prior to 1950.
Special notice

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Aleksandra Babenko
Aleksandra Babenko

Lot Essay

Ivan Shishkin's small painting River on the edge of a wood contains all of the characteristic features of this famous Russian landscape painter's very individual style. The variation of textural techniques and brushstrokes used by Shishkin infuse the paint surface with aesthetic appeal and a sense of direct contact with nature. The artist uses brushes of different sizes and softness, allowing him to depict the natural world's tremendous variation from brittle grass to uneven terrain alongside a sandy bank and the dense mass of a dark pine forest.

Shishkin's intense study of nature lies at the heart of all of his works irrespective of size. Every summer he would leave St Petersburg in search of interesting scenery. He particularly valued nature in its untouched state. Come autumn, the artist would return home with dozens, if not hundreds, of sketches and drawings. These would subsequently prove invaluable for working on large canvasses. 'In the study of nature, - the master stated - there is no end, you can never say that you have finished studying and that further study is not necessary.' (Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin: Perepiska. Dnevnik. Sovremenniki o khudozhnike [Correspondence. Diary. His contemporaries on the artist], Leningrad, 1978, p. 320). The natural world remained a great teacher and source of knowledge and inspiration for Shishkin. 'Shishkin simply amazes us with his knowledge, - wrote Ivan Kramskoy - when he is in the countryside, precisely, that is, in his element, he is bold and clever, here he knows everything: how, what and why.' (Perepiska I. N. Kramskogo [I. N. Kramskoi's correspondence], Moscow, 1953-1954, p. 64).

One of Shishkin's distinctive features was his ability to instill in his studies a sense of completion both in composition and artistic execution. River on the edge of a wood can be called a study/painting, which the artist painted en plein air, closely observing nature while simultaneously imbuing the work with artistic resolution.

The present work was painted in 1882, by which point Shishkin was a fully mature artist: no Peredvizhniki [Itinerant] exhibition was held without his crucial contributions. Alongside major works such as Rye (1878) and the Wilderness (1881), Shishkin painted many small landscapes, which were highly valued by his contemporaries.

We are grateful to Dr Galina Churak of the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow for providing this note.

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