Olga's Gallery

Olga's Gallery

June 1, 2001
        Dear Friends of Art,

        We have changed the content of our biweekly newsletter. Now we shall not only inform you about recent additions to our gallery but also send you a featured article on various subjects in Art History. We would be glad to know your opinion about our updated newsletter. You may subscribe to our mailing list by clicking here.

Hidden Treasures

            We would like to introduce you to some French paintings from the end of the XIX - beginning of the XX centuries. Until the late 1990s, these paintings had never been exhibited to the public and were known only through old catalogues and photos. The works were originally kept in private collections in Germany; but during the Second World War, they were hidden to prevent their destruction. After the fall of Germany, many items of art were moved to the USSR, though, during the following years, most of them were returned to East Germany. However, the paintings belonging to West Germany and private citizens, who left to the West, were kept on the territory of the USSR. There were many reasons for this. The USSR couldn’t hand the paintings over directly to West Germany because of the ideology of that time and East Germany wouldn’t accept the paintings for legal reasons. To add to that, Russians couldn’t forgive the Nazi Germans the destruction of such treasures of Russian culture as the frescoes of Novgorod and the palaces around St. Petersburg including the famous Amber Chamber which was never recovered. And so, the paintings from the private collections of West Germany were kept in the Hermitage, with a strict taboo on exhibition, picking up dust.
            Nothing lasts forever, and so the USSR fell apart and the government changed. In this boiling maelstrom of reforms, the exhibition ban on the paintings was lost, and they were finally shown to the general public. Their fate is yet to be decided. Will they stay in Russia? Or will they be moved to Germany? Leave that for the diplomats, the courts, the juries and the judges. We should just enjoy the beauty of these paintings, by such famous artists as Manet, Degas, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Cézanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse and others.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The Ebbing Tide at Yport.

In the summer of 1883, Renoir worked on the coast of Normandy. The artist came to stay in the household of Alfred Nunès, Camille Pissaro’s cousin and the mayor of Yport. Nunès commissioned a pair of large-scale portraits of his children, Aline and Robert . The portrait of Robert, also called Young Boy on the Beach of Yport, depicts Nunès the Younger walking along the shore. The landscape in the background makes up a large part of the picture. The Ebbing Tide at Yport is a pure landscape painting, done in the Romantic style, so uncharacteristic of Renoir. No other paintings of Yport by Renoir are known. The artist complained in one letter that this was because he had no time to work; the Nunèses were so hospitable that had receptions almost every day so Renoir was obliged to stay with the guests.
            There are fourteen paintings by Renoir recovered from the Hermitage storage places which we have introduce.
Monet spent the winter of 1884 in Bordighera, situated on the Italian Riviera, not far from the French border. His stay at Bordighera was exceptionally productive: it contributed around fifty landscape paintings, among the others were Bordighera (now in The Art Institute of Chicago) and Lemon Trees. Bordighera (now in Carlsberg Glyptothek, Copenhagen, Denmark). The sojourn was also much longer than the artist had expected.  “You would like to know if I like Bordighera? Yes, and I like it more and more every day.” Monet wrote to Durand-Ruel on the 9th of February 1884.  The painting Garden in Bordighera. Morning is one of the best of Monet’s paintings of the period.
            You will find six paintings by Monet from private German collections.
Isabelle Lemonier was one of Manet’s favorite models. She is depicted in more paintings than any other of his models except Berthe Morissot. There are numerous paintings of her in pastel, several in watercolor and six in oil. This portrait is one of the two biggest. Isabelle was the daughter of a rich jeweler and the younger sister of Mme Charpentier, whose salon was an important center for art and literature lovers in Paris. You can find the portraits of the Charpentiers by Renoir in Renoir’s section.

The painting Place de la Concorde (Vicomte Lepic with his Daughters) from the collection of Oscar Gerstenberg, Berlin, until 1995 was presumed destroyed in the Second World War, until it was at last exhibited to the general public in the Hermitage exhibition.
Vicomte Ludovic-Napoléon Lepic (1839-1889) was the son of one of the Emperor’s adjutants. He chose an artistic career for himself. Successively a pupil of Cabanel, Wappers and Verlat, he studied at Gleyre’s studio with Bazille and Monet, whom he befriended. He was also a close acquaintance of Degas, and he often went riding with the painter's brothers. Accompanied by Degas he went to the opera and they frequented horse races; in the painting Gentlemen’s Race Before the Start, Lepic is depicted as one of the amateur jockeys. Lepic worked in Paris, in Berck and at the seaside. Degas persuaded him to exhibit at the 1st Impressionist exhibition in 1874, where Lepic showed 4 watercolors. At the 2nd Impressionist Exhibition at Durand-Ruel’s Gallery in 1876, Lepic demonstrated 36 of his landscapes. Through his private income and influence he supported his fellow painters, but nevertheless attempted to exclude Cézanne from group exhibitions. After being banned by the Impressionists from exhibiting at the same time in the Salon, Lepic refused to take part in any of their exhibitions. He achieved surprising effects through new graphic techniques. In 1872, Lepic founded the Musée d’Aix-les-Bains and became its first curator. In 1879, he had an individual exhibition at the Gallery “La vie moderne”. Lepic traveled to Egypt and Pompeii, where he took part in excavations. In 1883, he exhibited at the Musée des Arts décoratifs. Viscount Lepic was accepted into the Legion of Honour. Unfortunately his works are completely forgotten.

Constantin Korovin. Pier in Gurzuf. The section of Constantin Korovin has been added. Constantin Korovin is the first Russian Impressionist painter who created the Russian version of this International school. The more one studies Russian culture of the XIX and XX centuries, the more significant Korovin’s contribution seems: he took part in many innovative initiatives of his time, renewed the painterly idiom and was among the first to introduce Impressionism into the theatre and decorative art.

In the next newsletters....

More hidden treasures from the Hermitage: Gauguin, Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse.
History of some private collections.

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