Description

    GERASIM IVANOVICH MATVEEV (Russian, 19th Century)
    Freed Serf, circa 1820
    Oil on canvas
    31 x 23 inches (78.7 x 58.4 cm)
    Inscribed and stamped verso
    Label verso: Fund for The Fine Arts, Chevy Chase, Maryland

    PROVENANCE:
    Sotheby's, London, April 5, 1990, lot 104;
    Sotheby's, New York, Russian Art - Volume III, April 28, 2006, lot 454.


    With the Freed Serf, Matveev has depicted an emotionally-charged subject matter to challenge a nineteenth-century Russian audience. The typical viewer of art exhibitions at this time would still have been of the upper class, and Matveev's handling of this liberated peasant would have been unsettling. With a traditional full beard and an intensely direct gaze, the newly-freed serf meets the viewer's eye as an equal. The straightness of his back conveys self-worth while his able-hand grasps a steadily grounded staff. A slight furrow of the brow is all that suggests the fatalistic streak that lies close to the Russian heart. Only his simple tunic belies his humble status; in any other costume he would be regal. When Tsar Alexander II officially abolished serfdom in 1861, the peasant class made up more than 80% of the population. The Emancipation Manifesto did little but actually worsen the plight of the peasant class and ensure economic stability for the aristocracy.

    КАРТИНА МАТВЕЕВА «ОСВОБОЖДЕННЫЙ КРЕПОСТНОЙ» ОТРАЖАЕТ ЭМОЦИОНАЛЬНУЮ НАКАЛЁННОСТЬ ВОПРОСА О КРЕПОСТНИЧЕСТВЕ И БРОСАЕТ ВЫЗОВ РУССКОМУ ОБЩЕСТВУ ДЕВЯТНАДЦАТОГО ВЕКА. ТИПИЧНЫЕ ПОСЕТИТЕЛИ ХУДОЖЕСТВЕННЫХ ВЫСТАВОК ТОГО ВРЕМЕНИ БЫЛИ ПРЕДСТАВИТЕЛЯМИ ВЫСШИХ КЛАССОВ. ТРАКТОВКА ЖЕ МАТВЕЕВЫМ ОБРАЗА ОСВОБОЖДЁННОГО КРЕСТЬЯНИНА НАРУШАЛА ПРИВЫЧНЫЙ ХОД ИХ МЫСЛЕЙ И ОКАЗЫВАЛАСЬ НЕУДОБНОЙ ДЛЯ ВОСПРИЯТИЯ. С ТРАДИЦИОННО ДЛИННОЙ БОРОДОЙ НЕДАВНО ОСВОБОЖДЕННЫЙ КРЕПОСТНОЙ ПРОНЗИТЕЛЬНО СМОТРИТ В ГЛАЗА ЗРИТЕЛЯМ КАК РАВНЫЙ ИМ. ПРЯМОЛИНЕЙНОСТЬ СПИНЫ ПЕРЕДАЁТ ЕГО ЧУВСТВО СОБСТВЕННОГО ДОСТОИНСТВА, НАТРУЖЕННАЯ РУКА ОХВАТЫВАЕТ ПОСОХ, ТВЁРДО УПИРАЮЩИЙСЯ В ЗЕМЛЮ. СЛЕГКА НАХМУРЕННАЯ БРОВЬ - ЭТО ВСЁ, ЧТО ВЫДАЁТ В ОБРАЗЕ НЕКИЙ ФАТАЛИЗМ ТАК ПРИСУЩИЙ РУССКИМ. ТОЛЬКО ПРОСТАЯ РУБАХА ОБНАРУЖИВАЕТ ЕГО СКРОМНЫЙ СТАТУС, В ЛЮБОМ ДРУГОМ КОСТЮМЕ ОН ИМЕЛ БЫ ЦАРСТВЕННЫЙ ВИД. КОГДА ЦАРЬ АЛЕКСАНДР II ОФИЦИАЛЬНО ОТМЕНИЛ КРЕПОСТНОЕ ПРАВО В 1861 ГОДУ, КРЕСТЬЯНСКИЙ КЛАСС СОСТАВЛЯЛ ТОГДА БОЛЕЕ ЧЕМ 80% НАСЕЛЕНИЯ. МАНИФЕСТ ОБ ОСВОБОЖДЕНИИ КРЕСТЬЯН МАЛО ЧЕМ ПОМОГ ИМ, И, НА САМОМ ДЕЛЕ, УХУДШИЛ БЕДСТВЕННОЕ ПОЛОЖЕНИЕ КРЕСТЬЯН, ПОСЛУЖИВ ЗАЩИТЕ ЭКОНОМИЧЕСКИХ ИНТЕРЕСОВ АРИСТОКРАТИИ.


    Estimate: $22,000 - $24,000.

    Condition Report*:

    Wax re-lined canvas, scattered inpainting in background, areas of possible repair in lower right corner and upper right quadrant, strengthening of tunic, areas of craquelure commensurate with age. 

    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    November, 2008
    14th Friday
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