Artist Konstantin Andreevich Somov, Soviet painting
Konstantin Somov is one of the representatives of Russian symbolism. The development of the artist’s style was largely influenced by his studies at the Paris-based Colorassi studio (1897–1899); it was then that he mastered the lessons of modern and French rococo. The scenes of his canvases resemble gallant balls and masquerades, which were characteristic of the bygone XVIII century. Modernity in his works is mystically connected with the previous epoch, the genre scenes of his canvases are reminiscences of the last century, his characters vaguely resemble puppet Watteau, Boucher and Fragonard, but unlike their predecessors, the artist endows those depicted more mystical ghostly than elegant elegance. V.A. Lenyashin rightly noted that the sources of Somov “beyond the borders of the past days” are much deeper, more blunt: Botticelli, Watteau, Hoffmann.
The ghostly transparent eroticism, without which Somov did not think of art, then permeates the irreversibly spicy pages of the Book of the Marquise, appears about (like the Casanova doll) in the naively challenging and mechanically outspoken image of Columbine. Behind the masks, grimaces, forced out carnival mummery, “dying every minute”, the artist’s soul hides, trembling from the touch of life more than death creeps:
An important place in the work of Somov is occupied by portraits that differed from other canvases by realism. When creating portraits, the artist uses pencil, watercolor, gouache and whitewash.
Konstantin Somov, during his lifetime, gained fame throughout Europe, his works were exhibited at many international exhibitions. Nevertheless, the tragedy in his biography was undoubtedly present. After the revolution in Russia, the time of general ruin came, and in these difficult days there could be no interest in the refined gallant scenes in the Motherland. The refined creativity of Somov becomes in this situation not relevant, and therefore incomprehensible and unclaimed.
In 1923, Somov, as part of a group of artists, left for the United States to accompany an exhibition of Russian art. Somov took an active part in the organization of this exhibition and in the design of the catalog along with I.E. Grabar Grabar, like Somov, it seemed that he was “too much in love with the past” and “should be dismissive and down upon everything modern”, “reluctantly talking about modern beauty” .
In 1924, the artist moved from the United States to France; settles in Normandy (Granville), and in 1928 acquires an apartment in Paris on the Boulevard Exelmans. The summer months are still spent in Normandy. Personal exhibition in the Parisian Forester shop. Participates in the exhibition of Russian art in Brussels. 1930 – personal exhibition in the gallery of the book. Golitsyn in London. Participates in exhibitions of Russian art in Belgrade and Berlin. 1932 – participates in the exhibition of Russian art in Paris.
A number of later works are acquired by the artist’s friend, M.V. Braykevich (in 1949, he entered his will at the Eshmolian Museum in Oxford). In recent years, the artist continued to write “gallant” scenes, illustrate books and work on portraits. In 1950, he held his memorial exhibition in Oxford.
The artist lived in Paris until his death and never came to Russia. He died in distant France, unnecessary and forgotten in Soviet Russia, and it was only after his death in his homeland that he was assessed thanks to immortal canvases (in 1969 exhibitions were held to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth in Leningrad)