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Alexandra Shchekotikhina-Pototskaya (1892-1967)
Alexandra Shchekotikhina-Pototskaya (1892-1967)
Alexandra Shchekotikhina-Pototskaya (1892-1967)
Alexandra Shchekotikhina-Pototskaya (1892-1967)
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Alexandra Shchekotikhina-Pototskaya (1892-1967)

Joueur d'accordéon

Alexandra Shchekotikhina-Pototskaya (1892-1967) Joueur d'accordéon signed, further signed in Cyrillic and dated '1923./A. Tcheko-Potock/Shchekoti' (lower right); further signed, inscribed with title and artist's address (on the reverse of backboard) oil on canvas 33 1/8 x 19 ½ in. (84 x 49.5 cm.)
Probably, Naghi, 'Le long de la cimaise', L'égypte nouvelle, Cairo, 22 March 1924, no. 91, p. 7.
Probably, M. Petrus, 'La foire aux croûtes', L'égypte nouvelle, Cairo, 19 April 1924, no. 95, p. 6.
Exhibition catalogue, Exposition Alexandra Stchekotikhina, Paris, 1926, listed p. [4], no. 1.
Probably, Cairo, Palais Savoy, Salon du Caire, 1924.
Paris, Galerie Eugène Druet, Exposition Alexandra Stchekotikhina, 3-14 May 1926, no. 1.

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Lot Essay

Born to a family of Old Believers in Alexandrovsk (present-day Zaporozhye, Ukraine), Alexandra Shchekotikhina-Pototskaya (1892-1967) moved to St Petersburg at the age of sixteen, where she entered the Drawing School of the Imperial Society for the Encouragement of the Arts. From 1908 to 1915 she studied under such prominent Russian artists and representatives of the Mir Iskusstva [World of Art] circles as Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947) and Ivan Bilibin (1876-1942). In 1913-1914 she also spent some time at the Académie Ranson in Paris, where she received instruction from Félix Vallotton (1865-1925) and Maurice Denis (1870-1943). Shchekotikhina-Pototskaya started her career creating stage and costume designs as well as producing numerous paintings and drawings that were presented at the Mir Iskusstva exhibitions. In 1918, she was invited to work for the State Porcelain Factory in Petrograd, where her mentor was another famous artist and craftsman – Sergei Chekhonin (1878-1936). Her porcelain designs encompassed Russian folklore and festivities of peasant life (one of her Parisian teachers, Denis, described her art as one with “un charme slave” – Maurice Denis, Exposition Alexandra Stchekotikhina, Paris, 1926) combined with scenes and characters of new Soviet life, as well as Soviet slogans and symbols. In 1923, after losing her first husband, Shchekotikhina-Pototskaya moved to Cairo via Berlin to join Bilibin, whom she eventually married. The artist couple travelled around Egypt, visited Syria and Palestine, and finally moved to Paris in 1925. In France, Bilibin became particularly famous in Russian émigré circles, while Shchekotikhina-Pototskaya was welcomed into the French art scene and participated in numerous salons and Parisian exhibitions. In 1936 the couple returned to Russia, where Shchekotikhina-Pototskaya focused predominantly on porcelain designs. To this day her work in this medium is extremely sought after in Russia and abroad and she remains one of the leading female artist in porcelain design, akin Zinaida Kobyletskaya (1881-1957), Natalia Danko (1892-1942), Ekaterina Yakimovskaya (1895-197?) and others.
Joueur d’accordéon combines the imagery of traditional Russian life with dynamic forms, lively brushstrokes and expressive colours. Such an approach resembles the works of another Russian artist, Natalia Goncharova (1881-1962), who moved to Paris around the same time as Shchekotikhina-Pototskaya. However, if Goncharova often turned to depicting hard peasant labour, Shchekotikhina-Pototskaya was more interested in celebrating that simple life. The vibrant composition and colour palette of Joueur d’accordéon were particularly praised by art critics and visitors to the Salon du Caire/Salon des amis de l’art in 1924, as recorded in contemporary periodicals. A few years later, when Shchekotikhina-Pototskaya moved to France, the painting was presented at her solo exhibition at the Galerie Druet in Paris in 1926. The artist herself was captivated by this composition, repeating the motif of the accordion player in porcelain on numerous occasions: several plates with this design have been sold by Christie’s (the most recent one - London, 26 November 2018, lot 360) and a plate with the same design is held in the collection of the State Russian Museum in St Petersburg (inv. ??-552).

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