DescriptionNICOLAI FECHIN (Russian, 1881-1955)
Portrait of Kate, 1926
Oil on canvas
30 x 25 inches (76.2 x 63.5 cm)
Signed and dated lower right: N. Fechin 26
THE HOGAN FAMILY COLLECTION
John Cotton, Austin, Texas, 1978.
National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, "Fechin Retrospective", September 13, 1991-November 17, 1991, IL.91.33
The luminous Portrait of Kate was painted the year that Fechin moved from New York to Taos. Having arrived in America in 1923, Fechin quickly established himself in New York as a successful portrait painter. Most likely completed in New York, this painting epitomizes Fechin's psychological and artistic prowess in capturing both the inner and outer likeness of his sitter. His paintings presuppose a level of connoisseurship and sophistication from his viewer, with audiences responding favorably to the challenge.
The abstract modeling of the background is a signature element of Fechin's portraits. The rapid brush strokes are executed with the confidence of a master, and merely suggest elements of the composition. Rather than spoon-feeding his viewer, Fechin incorporates just the essentials. His backgrounds are not representational but leave something to the imagination. In Portrait of Kate we can discern the diagonal drape of a curtain behind the figure, as well as a cascade of patterned fabric falling across the arm of her chair.
Juxtaposed against the abstract background is the more academically-rendered face of Kate. The smoothness of her skin is in direct contrast to the agitated brushwork upon which she has been painted. The tilt of her head, the sparkle in her brown eyes, and the slight smile that plays at the corner of her mouth all reflect mirth with an air of confidence. Fechin has captured not only the physical likeness but also the humor and intellect of Kate.
Conservation Report: The painting is in very good condition. The canvas has been lined to a linen support with an unknown adhesive. The surface is flat with no distortions. The surface is covered with an evenly applied layer of varnish. UV light examination revealed points of inpainting in the cap of the dress sleeve above the figure's arm. The inpainting is small and localized to an area of previous cleavage likely caused by the artist's method of adding kerosene to certain colors as a siccative. The artist signature and date painted in the lower right corner are clearly visible and un-altered. Framed Dimensions 40 X 35 Inches
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