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Aleksandr Golovin (1863-1930)
Aleksandr Golovin (1863-1930)

The Young Bartholomew

Aleksandr Golovin (1863-1930)
The Young Bartholomew
signed in Cyrillic 'A. Golovin.' (lower right)
oil, heightened with gold, on canvas
40 x 56 in. (101.7 x 142 cm.)
Painted 1895-1897
Elena William (1860-1919), the artist's classmate at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, Moscow, until the beginning of the 1920s.
Acquired by the grandfather of the present owner prior to 1926.
Exhibition catalogue, Mezhdunarodnaia khudozhestvennaia vystavka kartin zhurnala 'Mir Iskusstva' [International exhibition of paintings from the 'World of Art' magazine], St Petersburg, 1899, illustrated p. 99, listed p. II, no. 69.
Exhibition catalogue, Vystavka kartin zhuranala 'Mir Iskusstva' [Exhibition of paintings from the 'World of Art' magazine], St Petersburg, 1899, listed p. 9, no. 69.
S. Makovskii, 'A. Ia. Golovin', Apollon, no. 4, April 1913, St Petersburg, listed p. 19 as Venerable Sergius as an apprentice, p. 12.
E. Gollerbakh (ed.), Narodnyi artist respubliki A. Ia. Golovin 1863-1930. Vstrechi i vpechatleniia, vospominaniia khudozhnika [The People's Artist of the Republic, A. Ia. Golovin 1863-1930. Meetings and impressions, memoirs of the artist], Leningrad-Moscow, 1940, listed p. 160 as Venerable Sergius as an apprentice.
G. Romanov, Mir Iskusstva [The World of Art], St Petersburg-Moscow, 2010, listed p. 7 no. 69.
E. Paston, ‘Dekorativnoe vse i tol’ko dekorativno [Everything decorative and only decorative]: The Jubilee Exhibition of Aleksandr Golovin at the Tretyakov Gallery’, The Tretyakov Gallery Magazine, 3 (44), 2014, illustrated p. 8.

Moscow, The Historical Museum, VI vystavka kartin moskovskogo tovarishchestva khudozhnikov [The sixth exhibition of the Moscow society of artists], February 1899, ex. cat.
St Petersburg, The Baron Stieglitz Museum, Mezhdunarodnaia khudozhestvennaia vystavka kartin zhurnala 'Mir Iskusstva [International exhibition of paintings from the 'World of Art' magazine]', 18 January-? 1899, no. 69.

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Sarah Mansfield
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Lot Essay

The Young Bartholomew is the work of Aleksandr Golovin, that master of the Silver Age, whose interest lay in the basic iconographic and stylistic features of art in the era of Symbolism and Art Nouveau in Russia.
The location of this painting was unknown for many years, the work itself familiar only from its reproduction in The World of Art magazine. All the same, The Young Bartholomew is of great interest in that it allows one to see how, in Golovin’s earliest easel paintings, the inimitable characteristics of his future work (an exquisite decorativeness and inexhaustible imagination) are already present combined with an Itinerant theme.
In the mid-1890s, when this picture was painted, Golovin was working closely with Elena Polenova (1850-1898), one of the chief exponents of the national-romantic direction in Russian art. Golovin benefitted from Polenova’s knowledge of the development of national traditional art and the revival of craft. In this way the artist was able to add the decorative techniques used by Polenova to the knowledge he had acquired while studying for two years at the Moscow School of Painting in the architectural department (1881-1883). In The Young Bartholomew ornament provides a significant symbolic weight in the characterisation of the figures and in the portrayal of artistic life in Ancient Rus' in the XIVth century.
In 1897, Golovin, along with Polenova, began to work on a project to design the dining room of Maria Iakunchikova’s (1870-1902) house in Nara, near Moscow. The artist completed this project in 1899, after Polenova’s death. Unfortunately, the house has not survived, but some sketches and fragments of the interior reproduced in The World of Art magazine (fig. 2), provide an idea of the nature of the decoration, executed in the national-romantic style of Russian Art Nouveau. The decorative motifs used by Golovin in this design are clearly visible in the painting The Young Bartholomew.
The idea for The Young Bartholomew arose from the intention of The Society of Moscow Artists (of which Golovin was a member) to organise a National Historical Exhibition. Polenova took an active role in the realisation of this idea. It was suggested that this exhibition travel to towns and villages to promote Russian art to the people. The subjects of the paintings were taken from the Bible and Russian history. Golovin selected several subjects, including one which was based on the life of St Sergius of Radonezh, the founder of the Trinity Lavra of St Sergius in Sergiev Posad. According to 'The Life of St Sergius of Radonezh', Bartholomew, son of a Boyar, Kirill, who was in the service of the Rostov feudal princes, received no education as a child. The boy lived with his parents in Radonezh, close to Moscow, and there met an Elder in the woods who was to provide enlightenment. A later episode in this story inspired Mikhail Nesterov’s (1862-1942) The Vision of the Young Bartholomew (1890, State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow). In the present work Golovin depicts a preceding incident in which the young boy angers his teacher with his restlessness.
The National Historical Exhibition did not come to fruition. The completed paintings were shown in February 1899 at the VIth exhibition of the Society of Moscow Artists at the Historical Museum. S. K. Makovsky wrote about Golovin’s participation in the exhibition in the first biographical article on the artist: ‘In 1897 [the exhibition actually took place in 1899] he also participated in the Historical Exhibition in Moscow, along with Sergei Korovin, Polenov, Polenova, Sergei Ivanov and others. At this exhibition Golovin’s long-worked on painting (collection of the artist E. N. William, Moscow) was shown. Prior to this, in January 1899, the painting, entitled The Young Bartholomew, was exhibited at the International Exhibition of paintings organised by The World of Art magazine.'
According to the memoirs of I. N. William, the nephew of E. N. Willam, Golovin’s classmate at MUZhVZ, the painting was formerly in her collection and was sold at the start of the 1920s along with a theatrical design for Don Quixote.
In addition to its aesthetic value, Alexander Golovin’s rediscovered painting The Young Bartholomew fills an important gap in the study of this artist’s work.
We are grateful to Dr Eleonora Paston of the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow for providing this note.

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