DescriptionALEXANDER ALEKSANDROVICH OSMERKIN (Russian, 1892-1953)
Portrait of E.T. Barkova, 1921
Oil on canvas
26 x 21 inches (66.0 x 53.3 cm)
Pushkin Collection, acquired from the collection of the artist's daughter, Lili Osmerkina.
A.A.Osmerkin. Album of the exhibition in Moscow. 1989 (in Russian)
A. Nikich. Osmerkin. Moscow 1981 (in Russian)
At a first sight, the portrait in question looks like a mirror image of the famous masterpiece Portrait of E.T. Barkova (1925, oil on canvas, 112 x 85 cm., art inv.# 8151) in the collection of the State Russian Museum. After careful examination, however, it is clear that this portrait is a completely independent work. Painted earlier, yet belonging to the same general period, this work is smaller in size and considerably more intimate. There is no "demonstrative" right hand with a wedding ring, and her glance is full of intrigue. The two portraits obviously share the great personality of E.T. Barkova, but they never repeat each other, even in their skillful use of Osmerkin's famous mix of blue cobalt, red ochre and burnt sienna.
In the second half of 1920s Osmerkin began a more classic, but clearly unique, style of portraiture. His affection for great Dutch, Italian, Spanish and French masters, as well as adoration for Surikov, Ivanov, and Repin, was translated into a number of very powerful portraits in late 1920s. This portrait of Barkova is free of any "impressionistic distortions." Barkova looks aside in a gentle, understated manner.
Elizaveta Timofeevna Barkova was the first wife of the painter, and this affectionate portrait exhibits a wonderful understanding of her personality, her mood and tone. Her gorgeous creamy-white lace shawl and fancy feather fan, together with her red lips and red armchair fabric, serve as bright spots against the otherwise darker interplay of dozens of shades of blue, black, gray; the tender rosy-white skin of her face and left hand, her marble white chest and sky blue eyes radiate a very unusual romantic atmosphere with penetrating psychological intensity.
Some sources suggest that in the mid-1920s she was very friendly with R. Falk, who was also competing for her time and attention. Most of Osmerkin's portraits, when produced, were not signed. This one, being very intimate, was never displayed publicly.
Condition report available upon request.
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