Friday, January 31, 2014

Who painted this? #59

Who painted this? #59
Lots of clues in this painting if you look closely - and not just the obvious ones!

There are two very interesting stories associated with the subject of this portrait painting and the person who painted this portrait.  Let's see if you can work them both out!

A bit of a challenge but one that's worth it........

How to participate in "Who painted this? #58"

PLEASE make sure you read the rules before posting a comment - and ONLY POST ON THIS BLOG what you think is the answer.

Click this link to read THE RULES for participating in this challenge (this saves having to copy them out for each post!).

In short:
  • use your brains not software to find the answer - search using words only on a database of images 
  • leave your answer as a comment on this blog - do not leave the answer on Facebook! 
  • if correct it will not be published until the next post - which provides the answer 
  • if wrong it will be published 
  • the winner - who gets a mention and a link on/from this blog - is NOT THIS WEEK the first person to give me a completely correct answer for ALL the things I want to know. It's the person who does all this AND provides the BEST answer (see above)

Who Painted This #58 - The Answer

Christie's Auction Room by Thomas Rowlandson
Title of the artwork: Christie's Auction Room

Name of the artist who created this artwork: Thomas Rowlandson (1756–1827)

Date it was created: 1808

Media used: Hand coloured aquatint on paper

Where it lives now: This engraving was published as Plate 6 of Microcosm of London (1808) (see File:Microcosm of London Plate 006 - Auction Room, Christie's.jpg).

Plate 6: Scene in an auction room, a sale in progress; paintings hang from walls and are displayed from an easel, a crowd gathers in room; illustration in the 'Microcosm of London'. 1808Etching, aquatint and hand-colouring
This work is unusual for a number of reasons

First - it's not an independent picture. It's actually a picture which is bound in a book which was printed. A sketch and a proper copy of it exists and is kept in the British Library.

Next it's predominantly the work of one man - but it's possible a second helped out and a third would have produced the engraving.

The book it forms part of has images produced by two men. Augustus Charles Pugin (No - not that Pugin.  He is in fact the father of the man who designed the interior of the Palace of Westminster) was an architectural draughtsman, trained by John Nash. He was excellent when a drawing of a building was required. His work was populated and complemented by Thomas Rowlandson who excelled at drawing and painting people.

Obviously this particular work is almost entirely the work of Rowlandson - although Pugin might had had a hand in sorting out the upper part of the room and the glazed lights.
The Microcosm of Londonwas issued, in and after 1808, in three volumes. In the many coloured plates that illustrate, or constitute, this work, the figures were drawn by Rowlandson, and the architecture by Augustus Charles Pugin, while the text was written by William Combe. The work is concerned not only with the antiquities of London, but with its contemporary life. 
You can see the other works which formed part of the publication in
Living in London as I do, I absolutely love it - a great combination of making art and telling stories about London!

There's an absolutely fascinating blog post about Ackermann’s Microcosm of London – Online in The Regency Redingote.
The original 1808 – 1810 edition of this magnificently illustrated set is extremely rare, and therefore prohibitively expensive. The reduced-size reprint of 1904 is nearly as scarce and almost as costly.
There's also a lovely blog post about James Christie – from selling chamber pots to making billions… on Georgian Gentleman written by Mike Rendell (who also gets a mention in the comment of one of the participants in last week's challenge)

Who guessed correct?

Who painted this #58? - probably stumped a number of people given the work was not a painting but a print!

However two people both provided excellent answers for last week's challenge - and they both told me things I didn't know.  I very much commend you to read their comments on last week's challenge.

They were Marie and Accordingly I'm going to make them joint winners of last week's challenge.  Marie did get there first though!


  1. No.59 Easy for me: Portrait of Fyodor Shalyapin, by Kustoiev. Being a russian music fan i remember it since childhood.

  2. Boris Kustodiyev. Portrait of Fyodor Chaliapin. 1921. Oil on canvas. Theater Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
    Chaliapin took the painting with him when he left Russia in 1922 and Kustodiev made a smaller copy of it which is in the Russian museum in St Petersburg.
    After the revolution money was practically worthless. Chaliapin was 'paid' with a fur coat for one of his performances. It had come from a Soviet warehouse full of things taken from rich people.
    Kustodiev painted portraits, illustrated books and designed stage scenery.
    Chaliapin came to Kustodiev wearing the coat to ask him to do some painting for the Mariinsky theatre for the opera 'The power of the Fiend'. K was impressed with the story behind the coat and suggested painting a portrait of C wearing it accompanied by his favourite dog.
    In the background there are the festivities for the pancake festival, Chaliapin's 2 daughters and secretary and a poster advertising his concert.

    I wasted a bit of time googling for images with various words such as Russian bulldog then searched Russian Artists on wiki and saw Kustodiev's self portrait which looked as if it was by the same artist.

  3. The painting was originally called the New City.
    When they met to work on the painting they sometimes sang duets together.
    The copy was made in 1922.

  4. Artist -Boris Kustodiev
    Title- Portrait of Feodor Chaliapin
    Medium-Oil on canvas
    Where it is-Theatre Museum, St Petersburg/Feodor Chaliapin House Museum
    How I found it- It looked theatrical and Russian, maybe Diagaliev, Googling portrait +man+ circus+ Russian threw up a self portrait by Kustodiev which looked right.

    Born in Astrakan in 1878, Kustodiev studied there as a boy and later in the St. Petersburg Imperial Academy of Fine Arts, where his tutor was the artist Ilya Repin. Excelling in portraiture (and caricature), Kustodiev`s first big commission was as assistant to Repin on a large painting of the State Council. Multitalented and capable of working in a variety of mediums, Kustodiev worked on satirical cartoons for magazines (during the first revolution), book illustrations (after 1917), and set designs for a number of theatres. He was a member of the Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia , emerging unscathed from all the turmoil. A serious illness confined him to a wheelchair in 1916. He died of TB in St. Petersburg in 1927.
    One of the greatest names in opera, Feodor Chaliapin was born in to a peasant family, in 1873. He had a naturally deep bass voice and though largely self taught, was singing in the Imperial Opera, St . Petersburg by the time he was 21. What set him apart from other basses of the time was his acting ability and his sheer presence on stage. He sang in all the big Opera houses of Europe and made his debut in the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1907. This first visit was not a success, but his next visit in 1921 was a triumph. Chaliapin was interested in all the arts, not just music, he loved drawing and was a good draftsman ,( an exhibition of his drawings as held in Moscow in 2012); he often drew caricatures of his friends; among these friends was Kustodiev. They had met in 1919, when Maxim Gorky brought Chaliapin to Kustodiev`s studio. Both Chaliapin and Gorky were impressed by the artist not just by his work but also by his determination to continue painting while in pain and confined to a wheelchair. Chaliapin`s portrait is life size and, though Kustodiev used a block and tackle so that he could move large paintings upwards as well as back and forward without help, it must have been a physically daunting task. And yet the painting pulsates with colour and joy, Chaliapin, both a large and larger than life man ,is depicted in fur hat and “Boyar” coat. His figure fills the canvas, the picture of a successful man, his pet dog looking up at him. In the background there is a winter fair ( Chaliapin is thought to have started his career singing in a fairground). The three figures in the lower left corner are said to be Mary and Martha, Chaliapin`s daughters and his secretary Dvorictchin. There is a very Russian “folk” quality to the background, similar to that of Chagall, the colours are clear and the blue white of the snow throws the figure into relief. Kustodiev used a very unusual palette , in his work hot pinks ,bright turquoises lime greens and bright yellows, often of similar tones , bounce off each other to give a vibrant whole. Chaliapin bought the portrait ( and other work from Kustodiev) and had it in his apartment in Paris, Kustodiev painted
    a miniature of it for himself and kept it all his life. After Chaliapin died in 1938, his daughters donated the portrait to the Lenigrad (St Petersburg) State Theatre Museum. In 2003 Southeby`s held an auction of works from Chaliapin`s personal collection which included his own drawings and works by Kustodiev and in 2012 Kustodiev was in the news when Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg , who had bought his painting “Odalisque” at Christie`s for £1.7 million, claimed it was a fake. He got his money back after a court case.
    Bernadette Madden

  5. P.S.There is an interesting story on Wikipedia (Portrait of Chaliapin , Kustodiev painting) concerning the origins of the coat worn in the painting and stating that while Kustodiev was painting the portrait he was also painting scenery in the theatre for Chaliapin but I can`t find anything to back it up, so feel it should`t be in the main body of the comment.
    Bernadette Madden


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