Serov V. In Winter. 1898 In Winter
Pastels and gouache on cardboard. 51 x 68
Valentin Serov painted his finest landscapes at Domotkanovo, an estate belonging to his friends in Tver Province. The smooth horizontal grounds, muffled silverochre tones and the calm manner of applying the paint convey the quiet poetry of the dull expanses and the placid mood of a grey day.
This effect is intensified by the poetic motif of the sledge being driven out of the gates by a young horse. The landscape is an excellent example of Serov’s masterly command of the paintbrush, particularly in the way the artist conveys the movement of the sledge, the glimmering grey nuances of the shed and the forest in the distance, the snowdrifts in the field and the snow trampled into the road.
Serov V. Peter II and Princess Elizabeth Riding to Hounds. 1900 Peter II and Princess Elizabeth Riding to Hounds
Tempera and gouache on paper mounted on cardboard. 41 x 39
Designed to illustrate Nikolai Kutepov’s book Tsarist and Imperial Hunting, Valentin Serov’s work reflects the new understanding of history painting at the turn of the century. Serov and the other members of the World of Art preferred poetic images of daily life in the “golden age” of the eighteenth century to the more important historical events. The artist depicted historical themes in order to reflect on the fate of his country. He depicts a dashing cavalcade consisting of the fourteen year-old Tsar Peter II (1727–30) and Princess Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, against a background of rickety huts and down-at-heel peasants. Dynamic, poignant and piquant, Peter II and Princess Elizabeth Riding to Hounds offers an excellent example of Serov’s painterly mastery. The rustic landscape in autumn makes an important contribution to the artistic image.
Serov V. Portrait of Princess Olga Orlova. 1911 Portrait of Princess Olga Orlova
Oil on canvas. 237.5 x 160
Valentin Serov followed the traditions of Russian official portraiture, as exemplified by Dmitry Levitsky and Karl Brullov in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
This representative canvas contains many features of a high style. Proud and narrow-minded, Princess Olga Orlova may not have been beautiful, but she had that special pedigree that comes with breeding. Olga was considered the most elegant woman in the Russian capital; it was said that no one in St Petersburg wore a hat better that she. The skilful and dynamic composition, the restrained and noble tones, the sharp silhouette, the gesture of the well-groomed hand and the “enamel” painting are all intended to paint a psychological picture of this lioness of Russian and European society. The expression in the sitter’s eyes is both haughty and dreamy. Serov showed the portrait to great acclaim at the Esposizione Internazionale di Roma in 1911.
Princess Olga Konstantinovna Orlova (n?e Princess Beloselskaya- Belozerskaya) (1872–1923): Wife of Major-General Prince V. N. Orlov.
Serov V. Portrait of Count Felix Sumarokov-Elston (later Prince Yussupov). 1903 Portrait of Count Felix Sumarokov-Elston (later Prince Yussupov)
Oil on canvas. 89 x 71.5
Count Felix Sumarokov-Elston (1887–1967): Prince Yussupov (from 1917). Son of Count Felix Sumarokov-Elston and Princess Zinaida Yussupova, the last member of her family. Participated in the murder of Grigory Rasputin (1916).
Serov V. Ida Rubenstein. 1910 Ida Rubenstein
Oil and charcoal on canvas. 147 x 233
Valentin Serov’s portrait of Ida Rubinstein is one of the finest examples of Russian Art Nouveau painting. The stylistics are dictated by the dancer’s physical appearance and the nature of her art, conjuring up images of oriental history. Ida Rubinstein (1880–1960) was famous in Paris for her performances of the roles of Zobe?de in Sch?h?razade and Cleopatra in Cl?op?tre. Both ballets were choreographed by Mikhail Fokine for Sergei Diaghilev’s first two Saisons Russes in 1909 and 1910. Valentin Serov painted this portrait in Paris in summer 1910.
Serov V. Children. 1899 Children
Oil on canvas. 71 x 54
Valentin Serov depicts his two eldest sons on the terrace of his dacha near Terioki on the Gulf of Finland.
Alexander Serov (1893–1960): Engineer and shipwright. Fighter pilot during the First World War. Emigrated after the revolution. Georgy (Yury) Serov (1894–1932): Actor of Yevgeny Vakhtangov’s studio. Lived in Germany and France after the revolution, became a famous film director.