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This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE GERMAN COLLECTION


signed, dated and inscribed 'A. Jacovleff./Paris 1922.' (lower left); signed 'A. Jacovleff.' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
31 1/2 x 25 1/4 in. (80 x 64 cm.)
Painted in Paris in 1922
Private collection, North Germany, by whom acquired circa the 1960s, and thence by descent to the present owners.
Special notice
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.
Further details

Alexander Iacovleff was a Russian émigré artist who he settled in France in 1919, after two years of living and working in China, Mongolia and Japan on a pension scheme granted by the Higher Art School at the Imperial Academy of Arts in St Petersburg for his successful studies. The October Revolution of 1917 interrupted these travels, and Iacovleff chose to continue his artistic life in France. He had several solo exhibition in Paris and London in 1920 and 1921 showcasing recent works from the Far East and participated in two exhibitions of the ‘World of Art’ association in Paris with fellow Russian émigré artists. In the following year, an exhibition of his Far Eastern work travelled across a number of large American cities and was in published in two albums.

When the Wrestler was painted in 1922 Iacovleff was working extensively as a designer and muralist and was commissioned to decorate the old restaurant, La Biche, in Montmartre, Paris. A brilliant draftsman, fascinated by the art of the Old Masters, Iacovleff built his compositions using the principles of contrasting planes. The present painting shows the same technique, juxtaposing a prominent figure in the foreground with modern life scenes that in their own way complement the image of the main character.

The background of this work includes fragments of the popular Parisian 1920s fairground entertainments – carousels and circus-chapito, where various competitions like Greco-Roman or French wrestling were held. The wrestling theme is repeated in the advertising poster and, most obviously, the sportsman taking up the centre of the work. Iacovleff keeps the true identity of the figure a mystery, leaving it up for interpretation whether this is a generalised representation of a wrestler or a portrait of real individual, albeit one that resembles the famous world champion wrestler and weight-lifter Ivan Shemyakin. This colourful image of a wrestler-athlete with clearly marked physiognomic features show Iacovleff’s attention and interest in the sportsman’s appearance which is not surprising given that the artist was an athlete himself.

We are grateful to Elena Yakovleva, Doctor of Art History, Senior Researcher of the Russian Institute of Art History, St Petersburg for her assistance in cataloguing the present lot.

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Imogen Kerr
Imogen Kerr Vice President, Senior Specialist, Co-head of 20th Century Evening Sale

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