When Alexandre Iacovleff (1887-1938), a native of St Petersburg, found himself in China at the outbreak of the Russian Revolution in 1917, his fate as a travelling artist was sealed. He never returned to Russia, instead finding his artistic calling by drawing and painting the exotic peoples and environs of Africa and Asia.
In 1924, after having been inducted into the Citroën overland journey to Africa, known as the Croisière Noire, Iacovleff cemented his identity as the visual narrator of the expedition, and was once again appointed as the official artist of the legendary 1931 expedition, La Croisière Jaune, which set a course along the Silk Road, through the Middle and Far East.
He sketched and painted throughout the duration of his travels, and the result was a prolific output of over five hundred works of art. In his depictions of native peoples, Iacovleff demonstrated his particular ability to capture the strong likeness and tangible character of his subjects. His portraits are often both dramatic and intimate, capturing an individual persona within a greater cultural context.