Click on photos to enlarge.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Do You Know the Artist? (Answer)

The artist is Konstantin Yuon
Autumn View from the Balcony, 1910,
Konstantin Yuon. This one sold for £263,400
About a week ago I presented the work of a relatively unknown artist asking if anyone could identify him by name. I wish to congratulate a reader named Bryan for correctly guessing the Russian painter, Konstantin Yuon. Bryan was not just the only one to guess correctly, he was the only one to guess at all. I don't know if this indicates how limited my readership might be, or if the challenge presented was far too difficult. Bryan's response came the very next day which made me think initially that the amount of material presented and the clues given made it too easy. However, the fact no one else even tried, much less submitted incorrect names, leads me to believe the opposite...or perhaps they noted Bryan's correct response and decided, why bother. In any case, once more, way to go, Bryan! You may have what it takes to make a good art detective.

I guess I should also mention that the "wildcard" painting I included was Paul Cezanne's Landscape, Study after Nature (below), dating from 1876. The date should have been a clue as all the other paintings--those by You--were dated from the early 1900s. Yuon wasn't even born until 1875.

Landscape, Study after Nature, 1876, Paul Cezanne
Konstantin Yuon was born in Moscow into the family of a banking clerk of Swiss-Russian origin. His brother, Paul Yuon, became a notable composer. Konstantin studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, graduating in 1898. During several trips to Paris, Yuon became acquainted with the cityscapes of Camille Pissarro and other Impressionists. And though he seems to have liked their work, he retained his own distinctive style. Returning to Moscow in 1900, Yuon opened his own art school. His studio was widely used by other painters to whom he rented out space. Yuon also designed sets for the Moscow Art Theatre and the Maly Theater, becoming the official designer for this theater from 1945. He also contributed sets for operas. With the advent of the Soviet government after the 1917 revolution, Yuon was the director of the Research Institute of the Academy of Arts and the First Secretary of the Union of Soviet Artists. He won a Stalin Prize in 1943, as well as receiving the Order of Lenin and other honors late in life. Konstantin Yuon died in Moscow in April, 1958 at the age of eighty-three.

A Winter Day, 1910, Konstantin Yuon.
Konstantin Yuon started as an unofficial Impressionist landscape and genre painter with Symbolist leanings. The most Symbolist of his works are the cycle of engravings Creation of the World on the theme of Genesis done between 1908 and 1912. His painting New Planet (below) from 1921, depicts the October Revolution as the result of a cosmic catastrophe. Among Yuon's impressionist landscapes are The Carousel (bottom, left), from 1913, and The Interior, (bottom, right), from 1907. Later Yuon toyed with the ideas of lyrical landscape mixed with the imitations of Palekh miniature and Icon arts. Toward the end of his life Yuon became a strict social realism artist, producing paintings like Parade on the Red Square on November 7, 1941 (bottom, center).

The New Planet, 1921, Konstantin Yuon

The Carousel, 1913, Konstantin Yuon
The Interior, 1907, Konstantin Yuon

Parade on the Red Square on November 7, 1941,
1949, Konstantin Yuon


  1. I actually recognized Yuon almost immediately as I saw him many times in the Tretiakov Gallery as I still lived in Moscow. The new planet is very well known, I believe a reproduction of it was in our books on Russian history, revolutions time. I'd like to thank you for such a marvelous blog, it is very interesting and exciting to an art lover as myself. Please continue!

  2. Thank you for your comments. It never ceases to amaze me the depth and breadth of Russian art, particularly painting. I've always been disappointed in that I hadn't time to visit the Tretiakov Gallery during my brief visit to St. Petersburg several years ago. All I had time for was the Hermitage and a couple palaces. I shall try to continue to measure up to your expectations.