Maria Iakunchikova (1870-1902)
Maria Iakunchikova (1870-1902)
Maria Iakunchikova (1870-1902)
4 More
Maria Iakunchikova (1870-1902)
7 More
These lots have been imported from outside the EU … Read more PROPERTY FROM THE FAMILY OF THE ARTIST

Irreparable; Study for 'Irreparable'; Rêve; and Girl in the garden

Irreparable; Study for 'Irreparable'; Rêve; and Girl in the garden
one signed with Cyrillic initials and dated 'MIa/1889' (lower right)
one etching with aquatint in colours; three pencil and ink, two with watercolour, one heightened with gold, on paper
11 ¾ x 15 ¾ in. (29.7 x 40 cm.); and smaller
The family of the artist.
By descent to the present owner.
Possibly, K. Kiselev, Maria Iakunchikova, Moscow, 2005, listed p. 142 as Nepopravimoe.
K. Kiselev, Maria Iakunchikova, Geneva, 2008, illustrated p. 147, listed p. 154 as Rêve.
Special notice
These lots have been imported from outside the EU or, if the UK has withdrawn from the EU without an agreed transition deal, from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime.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.

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Margo Oganesian
Margo Oganesian Head of Department, Fabergé and Russian Works of Art

Lot Essay

Rêve is a study for the pyrogravure and oil on door panels, Dream (see lot 19).

Following the success of previous sales, Christie’s is once again privileged to offer a unique selection of works by Maria Iakunchikova from the artist’s family. Never before seen on the market, lots 12-38 cover a wide range of subjects and demonstrate Iakunchikova’s mastery of technique and media.

Creating a synthesis of art and nature, fusing Symbolism with the aesthetics of Art Nouveau, Maria Iakunchikova's work is distinguished by her ability to imbue her chosen medium, be it canvas, panel or textile with profound lyricism. Her oeuvre is imaginative and transportive; conveying a sense of nostalgia for the ephemeral world of Russia in the late 19th century, as well as providing a tantalising glimpse of something greater, an undefined spiritual realm. Celebrating the primacy and simplicity of folk art and, alongside her friend and mentor Elena Polenova (1850-1898), seeking inspiration in traditional Russian fairy tales and the natural world, Iakunchikova also championed the kustar industries, securing her importance to the artistic Neo-nationalist movement.
Iakunchikova's artistic practice was greatly influenced by her immediate circle; Pavel Tretyakov (1832-1898), was married to her aunt, while her sister Natalia married Vasily Polenov (1844-1927) in the church at Abramtsevo. At her sister's home, Maria Iakunchikova became acquainted with Moscow's finest artists including Isaak Levitan (1860-1900), whose landscapes left an indelible impression. Iakunchikova’s iconic From a window of the old house, Vvedenskoye (1894), sold at Christie’s for a record-breaking £700,000 in November 2011, is arguably one of the most laconic expressions of the artist’s viewpoint. For Iakunchikova, the manmade structure, in this case the columns which frame the landscape, reminds the viewer that we are experiencing the scene through her, the weight of Iakunchikova’s experiences personalise the space. Moreover, the symbolic role of landscape is significant: in her work Iakunchikova uses the architecture of the evocative country estates of Nara, Morevo, Abramtsevo and Vvedenskoe as portals – a means to escape the physical and access the natural world, and by extent a spiritual realm beyond. In this way Iakunchikova’s depictions of the gentle rustling of birch leaves, the mesmerising ripples of a stream, the mirrored surface of a pool of water all take on new import.

Iakunchikova’s versatility as an artist led her to explore and master a number of different mediums. She was one of the first Russian artists to experiment with colour engraving (lot 12) and her influence can be traced particularly in the formative oeuvre of Anna Ostroumova-Lebedeva (1871-1955). However, it is her experimentation with pokerwork, or pyrogravure, for which she is perhaps best known. Iakunchikova’s interpretation of the natural rhythm of nature, present in Cowslip (lot 17) and Forget-me-nots (lot 34), is complemented by the decorative and hand-worked quality of the technique. The poet and artist Maximilian Voloshin (1877-1932) praised Iakunchikova for creating ‘…a synthesis of colour and form, using the sinuous lines to render a symbolic image, yet at the same time preserving a degree of realism…the panel on wood is the most finished and absolute of all that Iakunchikova produced. In this mode of expression she revealed her true character. Here, all the ideas that had preoccupied her begun to achieve their final incarnation (M. Voloshin, 'Tvorchestvo M. V. Iakunchikovoi', Vesy, no. 1, January 1905, pp. 30-38).

Shortly after her participation in the Exposition universelle in 1900 , Iakunchikova’s health deteriorated and she eventually succumbed to tuberculosis in Chêne-Bougeries in 1902. As Sergei Diaghilev's obituary makes clear, Iakunchikova's untimely demise was felt keenly by the contemporary art world: 'The life of Iakunchikova has been too short for all the things she could have done. But, amid the troubles of caring for her children and the fast-pace of Paris, she managed to reveal the depth of an admirable talent, a profound love for our Russian forests, oh! so far away, those little pine-trees and fir-trees that, for her, had been filled with a religious sentiment towards which she strove her entire life. Her entire existence has been a tragedy. She could not be enough for everything, she, the dear poet of the Russian forests, of the pastures, of the small village cemeteries with their crosses in the middle, of the fences of convents and of the country-side verandas. How could she, so sweet and frail, have found the strength to fight for her life?' (quoted in S. Lifar, Serge de Diaghilev: Sa vie, Son Oeuvre, Sa Légende, Monaco, 1954, p. 20).

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