announces that its forthcoming Russian Art Auctions will be headlined by Merchants Wife, an exceptional masterpiece by Boris Kustodiev. The painting is estimated at £1,200,000‐1,800,000, and will be among the top lots of Londons fall 2011 Russian week.
Merchants wives, or Kupchikhas as they are known in Russian, are among the artists most recognisable subjects. In these works, Kustodiev was looking for a distinctly Russian style using a wealth of rich and vibrant colours. He found inspiration in the merchant classes of provincial towns, vestiges of tradition at a time when Russia was going through dramatic changes.
Kustodievs Kupchikhas are represented in many important public collections of Russian art. The present variation on the artists favourite theme is one of very few major works that still remain in private hands.
The painting was shown at the historic Russian Art Exhibition in New Yorks Grand Central Palace in 1924, organised by Sergei Vinogradov in order to raise money for his fellow artists stricken by the Revolution and civil war. Although Kustodiev did not travel himself to the United States, he contributed 21 works to the exhibition. Also among this number was Portrait of Irina Kustodieva, the artists daughter, sold by MacDougalls in June 2011 for over £1.8 million.