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Portrait of Kate (1926)
By Nicolai Fechin
Oil on canvas
Signed and dated ‘N.Fechin 26.’ (lower right)
Size: 76.2 x 63.5 centimetres (29.875 x 63.5 inches)
Estimated price: £250,000-350,000

Today we travel to Russia for a brief look at one of the country’s great 20th century portrait artists, Nicolai Fechin. His imaginative and commanding representations of women, from his female students in Kazan, to American sophisticates and Native Americans are among the most captivating works of this period.

From his earliest days as a young student, Fechin was intrigued by portrait painting and was drawn to recording the likenesses of people which provided the foundation for a highly successful and varied career. Never content with merely capturing a likeness on canvas, Fechin strove to reveal the character and inner spirit of each of his sitters.

Portrait of Kate by Fechin, painted in 1926, with its formal pose and elegantly positioned hands, suggests that the work may relate to a commission. With the artist’s distinctive, energetic application of paint, seen in the masterly impasto which was usually applied with a palette knife and then worked with his thumb, the work has a vivacity which only serves to compliment the playful expression on the young sitter’s face.

First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on May 26, 2013.