Konstantin Korovin (1861-1939) was born into a merchant family in Moscow and demonstrated his interest in art at an early age. At 14 years old, he enrolled at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, where his elder brother Sergey, who later became a famous Realist painter, was studying. In 1876 Konstantin Korovin switched from the faculty of architecture to the faculty of painting, where he was taught by such influential Russian painters as Vasily Perov (1834-1882), Alexei Savrasov (1830-1897), Evgraf Sorokin (1821-1892) and Illarion Pryanishnikov (1840-1894). After briefly joining the Imperial Academy of Arts in St Petersburg in 1881, Korovin returned to Moscow and continued his studies under Vasily Polenov (1844-1927), another important landscape painter associated with the Peredvizhniki movement, whose drawing evenings he had attended in 1880. He successfully graduated from the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in 1886. Through Polenov, Korovin met the famous Russian industrialist and art patron Savva Mamontov (1841-1918) and entered the artists’ colony in Abramtsevo. There he worked on sketches for furniture, carpentry, pottery and other decorative designs; later focusing on theatre designs for Mamontov’s Private Russian Opera in Moscow. Throughout the 1880s-1890s, Korovin went on numerous trips around Russia and abroad, but his visits to Paris were perhaps the most crucial: the young Russian artist fell in love with the city and Impressionism. In 1900 Korovin joined the Mir iskusstva (World of Art) group and was appointed at the Imperial theatres in Moscow and St Petersburg to create designs for numerous performances. He continued to visit Paris regularly and exhibit his art in the city, which had left such a deep impression on him, and despite working successfully under the newly established Soviet government after the revolution of 1917, Korovin seized the opportunity to move to the French capital with his family in 1922.
Before settling in Paris permanently in 1923, Korovin passed through Berlin. In the 1920s, Berlin became one of the cultural and intellectual centres of the Russian immigration. Korovin, recognised as a great Russian Impressionist, drew special attention. Korovin participated in several exhibitions in the German capital, including a two-part solo show at the Carl Nicolai Gallery in Viktoriastrasse (the first and the second parts, or the Serien as they were called in German, took place in May and June of 1923 respectively). This cultural event generated great interest and attracted numerous contemporary publications, such as Der Kunstwanderer, Dni, Rul’ among others, which provided stellar reviews of the exhibition. The opulent artistic and literary magazine Jar-Ptitza, which was published in Russian in Berlin (and later in Paris), dedicated an illustrated article with a full-page reproduction of In the garden on the occasion of Korovin’s show. The author of the article points out that the works displayed at the Carl Nicolai Gallery represented the well-established style of the more mature artist and, at the same time, new developments in his idiosyncratic Impressionist manner: they were reminiscent of what is traditionally described as classic French Impressionism but still different and unique. As the art historian and curator Lydia Iovleva wrote in conjunction with Korovin’s retrospective at the State Tretyakov Gallery and the Russian Museum in 2012, he can be rightfully considered “the greatest exponent of Russian Impressionism” (Lydia Iovleva, ‘Konstantin Korovin: His Paintings and Theatre Work at the Tretyakov Gallery’, The Tretyakov Gallery Magazine, 2012, no. 1 (34)).
Korovin himself characterised his works as “fragments of beauty” (‘The Exhibition of Paintings by K.A. Korovin in Berlin’, Jar-Ptitza, 1923, no. 10, p. 10) which is perfectly exemplified by In the garden. The painting depicts a smiling woman in a dazzling white dress on a bench enjoying the shade on a beautiful sunny day. Capturing a fleeting moment, the artist uses bold wide brushstrokes to create an almost palpable sense of summertime and its characteristic warm light and air, the intricate texture of the woman’s dress and the soft greenery in the background. In the garden skilfully conveys the warm colours of a sunlit garden creating almost a multi-sensory experience of a hot summer's day.