2291. Isaac Ilitch Levitan, Crimea; Cypress Avenue

Object description
Crimea; Cypress Avenue by the Sea
Signed, oil on canvas laid down on board.
20 x 30cm

Uppsala, Important Sale, Russian Art, 7th December 2006, lot 1233
Private Collection, Sweden
Isaac Illich Levitan, Dokumenty, materially, bibliography, Moscow, 1966, listed, no.115
6th Exhibtion of the Moscow Society of Art lovers, 1886-1887

Levitan visited the Crimea in the Spring of 1886, a year after leaving the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. In March 1886 he had received a considerable sum of money for the work on the decorations for the Mamontov Opera, and during two moths there he produced a series of works in which he began to introduce a more colourful palette than he had used hitherto, and which can be seen as a sort of turning point in the artist's brief but brilliant career. Many of this cycle are preserved in Russian museums: The Seashore, Crimea, 1886, Russian Museum St. Petersburg; In the Mountains, and Alupka both Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow etc., and it is really at this moment that the artist began to find his way out of his difficult childhood and poverty.
Mikhail Nesterov wrote that until the appearance of these Crimean landscapes "no Russian artist had really captured southern nature with its opal sea, dreamy cypress trees, flowering almonds and the whole elegy of ancient Tauris. Levitan was the first to reveal the beauty of the southern coast of the Crimea." When they were shown at the exhibition of the Moscow Society of Arts in 1887, they had, according to the memoirs of Nesterov, "a quite exceptional success" from artists and art lovers alike, and "were sold in the first few days."