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Pavel Dmitrievich Korin (1892-1967) "Male Portrait", Oil/Canvas, late 1940s-1950s
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The large oil on canvas painting, which is offered here, boasts superior quality of execution. It is a portrait of a (still anonymous) 40/50-year-old gentleman dressed in a fashionable suit, seated in leather chair with cigar in his left hand and - what appears to be - a manuscript or a magazine in his right, a cactus pot besides him. In March 2016, this work resurfaced at one of provincial auction houses in Germany.
Distrusting our eyes (not often does one find or even to purchase large, very important and of incredible quality work of the venerable Soviet artist, whose other paintings are mostly housed in collections of esteemed Russian museums (among others, Tretyakov Gallery, Russian Museum, etc.; almost none of Korin's works (except for a single landscape drawing) have been offered at the international art market of the last 20-30 years), we felt like guessing all numbers of a winning lottery ticket.
Nonetheless, the fact remains: over the course of the auction sale, we won (via telephone bidding) this item and thus came into possession of an authentic work of Pavel Dmitrievich Korin.
But when was this portrait actually made?
The sitter, surely a foreigner (probably (according to his facial features) a German man), possibly sat for this portrait during his stay in Moscow. He then may have brought the finished portrait to Germany (where the portrait next resurfaced in 2016). Another option is that the artist made an initial portrait study in Moscow and finished his work after the sitter left Russia. The finished painting was then either sent to Germany, or was delivered to sitter by the artist himself (it is known from Korin's biography that he (already a well-known portraitist) visited Germany twice (we leave out of account his first visit to Germany in October of 1931 and his repeated stay in Berlin in June of 1932; when in February of 1932, in Sorrento, Maxim Gorky asked the artist to make his portrait, Korin replied: "Alexei Maximovich, until now I painted no portraits, and I am afraid the portrait will not turn out well". At another instance, in his memoirs, the elderly artist remembers: "I began painting portraits in 1939..." (in reality it was 1938 - B.W.)) - in 1945 (his visit of Marshal Zhukov's headquarter in Potsdam) and several weeks stay in 1955, in Dresden (the head of Moscow team of restorers working since 1945 on restoration of paintings seized by Soviets from Dresden Gallery, he attended the 1955 restitution ceremony in Dresden; could this portrait have been made there and then?).
At the beginning of our research the portrait's frame continued to be a disturbing factor for us. It bears an old label of frame-maker Georg Stephl fron Bavarian town Kempten (this store no longer exists). The tree-digit telephone number (and that in a town of more than 50,000 inhabitants!) could be latest from 1930s. Nevertheless, after careful examination of the frame, we discovered that it was pre-cut in order to fit the portrait (in other words, the frame is not original to the painting).
Resume: we believe that this portrait was made in the period between late 1940s - late 1950s (the sitter's suit and the details of the room interior do not allow us to refer it to a date later than that).
One solid source would greatly help us to arrive at final definition of the sitter's identity, namely the artist's archives preserved by the Korin Museum in Moscow. Unfortunately, we have no access to this source...
Pavel Dmitrievich Korin was born on July 8, 1892 in village of Palekh (now in Ivanovo Oblast) to a family of a professional icon-painter Dmitry Nikolayevich Korin. In 1897, when Pavel was only five years old, his father died. In 1903-1907, he studied at the School for Icon Painting at Palekh getting a formal certificate as a professional icon-painter. In 1908, he moved to Moscow and until 1911 worked there at the icon shop of the Donsky Monastery.
In 1911, he worked as an apprentice to Mikhail Nesterov on frescoes of The Intercession Church at the Convent of Martha and Mary (Marfo-Mariinsky) on Bolshaya Ordynka Street in Moscow. Nesterov insisted that Korin gain a formal education in easel painting and arranged his admission to the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in 1912. Pavel graduated from that school in 1916, having been a student of Konstantin Korovin and Leonid Pasternak.
In 1916, he worked on frescoes for the mausoleum of Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fyodorovna at The Intercession Church at the Convent of Martha and Mary. In accordance with the wishes of the Grand Duchess, he traveled to Yaroslavl and Rostov to study traditional frescoes of antique Russian churches.
In February 1917, he started to work in his attic studio on Arbat Street in Moscow and worked there until 1934.
In 1918-1919, he taught at the 2nd State Art Studios. In 1919-1920, he worked at the Anatomic theatre of Moscow State University, as he thought that, as a painter, he needed deeper knowledge of the human anatomy. In the evenings, he copied paintings and sculptures of the Museum of Fine Arts. In 1923, he traveled over Northern Russia, visiting Vologda, Staraya Ladoga, Ferapontov Monastery, and Novgorod. In 1926-1931, he worked as an instructor of painting classes for beginners at the Museum of Fine Arts.
In 1926, the Convent of Martha and Mary was closed by the Soviets and all the art there was to be destroyed. Pavel and his brother Alexander managed to smuggle out and save the iconostasis and some of the frescoes. On March 7 of that year, he married Praskovya Tikhonovna Petrova, a disciple of the Convent of Martha and Mary.
In 1927, Korin's watercolor "Artist's studio" and his oil landscape "My Motherland" were bought by the Tretyakov gallery, showing recognition from the Soviets.
In 1931, Korin's studio was visited by Maxim Gorky, who supported Korin since. In the same year, Korin followed Gorky abroad, visited Germany, Italy (among others, Gorky's home in Sorrento) and France. In Sorrento, he painted Gorky's portrait.
Still in 1931, Korin started to work as the Head of the Restoration Shop of Museum of the Foreign Art (former Museum of Fine Arts later Pushkin Museum). He held this position for until 1959. After this he held the position of the Director of the State Central Art Restoration Works until his death. As one of the most senior Russian restorers of the time he contributed enormously to the saving and restoration of famous paintings.
In 1933, Korin moved to the studio on Malaya Pirogovka Street in Moscow where he worked until his death. Now the building is Pavel Korin's museum as a branch of Tretyakov Gallery.
In the 1940s, the artist painted many portraits of members of the Soviet intelligentsia (including Leonid Leonidov, Mikhail Nesterov, Alexey Tolstoy, Kachalov and Nadezhda Peshkova (Gorky's daughter in law)). He painted the fresco Match to the Future for the Palace of Soviets in the Moscow Kremlin and a Triptych devoted to Alexander Nevsky.
In the 1950s, Korin worked on mosaics for the Moscow Metro. His mosaics decorate the stations Komsomolskaya-Koltsevaya, Arbatskaya (Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya Line) and Novoslobodskaya, and also the Main Hall of Moscow State University. He also won an impressive list of Soviet awards in the 1950s and 1960s:
Stalin Prize - 1954 for mosaics for the station Komsomolskaya-Koltsevaya,
Lenin Prize - 1963 for portraits of Martiros Saryan, group portrait of cartoonists Kukryniksy, Italian painter Renato Guttuso
Member of Academy of Arts of Soviet Union - since 1958
Gold medal on World's Fair at Brussels - 1958 for the portrait of Martiros Saryan,
People's Artist of the Russian SFSR 1958
People's Artist of the USSR - 1962 ()
Order of Lenin - 1967
Pavel Korin died in Moscow on November 22, 1967 and was buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery.
Farewell to Rus:
The biography of Korin shows an accomplished Soviet painter and a prominent art figure, but the job he had considered the main work of his life was left unfinished. During his student years Korin was impressed by the life of Alexander Ivanov, who spent most of his adult life in creating a single painting "The Appearance of Christ before the People" (1835-1857). Pavel decided that he should live by Ivanov's example and devote his whole life to a single large painting. He began by preparing a very accurate, life sized copy of Ivanov's masterpiece (1920-1925). The initial name for this painting was "Bless the Lord, oh my soul".
In 1925 Korin witnessed the intercession of Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow in the Cathedral of the Dormition of Moscow Kremlin. All people of importance in the Russian Orthodox Church, usually suppressed by the Soviets, were present. After the event Pavel decided that his magnum opus would be named "Requiem", or "Requiem for Russia", and would depict the intercession of Patriarch Tikhon and show the Russia that was lost after the October Revolution.
Korin feverishly painted people present at the burial service for Tikhon, often the last survivors of families of Russian nobility, or dissident priests, soon to be destroyed. Rumors about the dangerous painting soon became a matter of NKVD interest. In 1931, Maxim Gorky advised Korin that the name "Requiem for Russia" was too strong to be accepted and recommended a change to (literally) "Rus that is going away", but usually translated as "Farewell to Rus". Gorky believed that the painting showing the last parade of the Orthodox Church, depicting the tragedy and at the same time the misery of those people who would will disappear into irrelevancy, would be accepted and even well received by the Government. Korin agreed with the new name of the painting.
For forty years Korin worked on the painting. He produced dozens of large (more than life size), detailed paintings that he preferred to call etudes for the Farewell to Rus masterpiece; he worked on composition. He ordered a huge canvas, designed a special stretcher for it, and spent years coating the canvas with multiple layers of the special underlays. Korin was combining the ancient methods of the icon paintings with the science of art restorations and claimed the painting prepared by his methods should survive hundreds, possibly thousands of years without the need for restoration.
In his lifetime, he had not put a single brushstroke on the canvas - forty-two years of preparational work was not enough for Pavel Korin. Though some might consider it an extreme case of procrastination, the huge canvas became a popular art exhibit in the Korin Museum. Many consider it as an art masterpiece in its own right, similar to the Black Square of Kazimir Malevich.
For artist's extensive biography, as well as other materials concerning his life (in Russian), CLICK HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.
Condition: good; in original frame
Creation Year: 1940s/1950s
Measurements: UNFRAMED:85,2x100,2cm/33,5x39,4in FRAMED: 106,0x120,6cm/41,7x47,5in
Object Type: Framed oil painting
Style: 20th century Russian Art
Technique: oil on canvas
Inscription: signed in Cyrillic: Pavel Korin
Creator: Pavel Dmitrievich Korin
To see other works by this artist click on the name above!
Creator Dates: 1892 village Palekh-1967 Moscow
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