FILATOV ART FUND DISCOVERS ORIGINAL VERSION OF TRETYAKOV’S RUSSIAN MASTERPIECE
06 Feb 13
The Filatov Family Art Fund discovered what is believed to be the original version of Fedor Pavlovich Reshetnikov’s 'Low Marks Again' (Opyat Dvoika), one of the most iconic paintings from the Soviet area, which is exhibited in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.
The art fund, which focuses on bringing together Soviet paintings, drawings and sculptures that left Russia mainly after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, bought the artwork from a private collection in Miami. Following the purchase by the Fund, the twentieth century Russian art expert Natalia Alexandrova established that “it was created by the artist before the painting exhibited in the Tretyakov Gallery.’’ Previously, it was believed that the Tretyakov's version, which has been part of their collection since 1957, was the earliest version of the painting.
'Low Marks Again' is a familiar image among former Soviet citizens as it was printed in primary school literature textbooks during the 1950s. It became so popular that it was even turned into a cartoon in 1957. It depicts the scene of a small boy who presents his disgruntled mother with a bad school report, with his sister as disappointed onlooker towering over a pile of homework and his younger brother glaring triumphantly. Born into a family of icon painters, Reshetnikov was one of the major exponents of the Socialist Realism school, with Soviet leadership and ordinary lives being his main subjects.
The painting in possession of the Art Fund, dated late 1948 or early 1949, is understood to be the earlier version of the Tretyakov Gallery masterpiece because in the background of the scene depicted is a painting on the wall which is an initial sketch of the artist’s work, 'Arrived on holidays' (1948), for which he received the Stalin Prize in 1949. In the Tretyakov Gallery’s version (created in 1952), the background painting is a complete sketch. Connecting his works in this way became a recurring detail of Reshetnikov’s paintings and 'Low Marks Again' itself appears as a background detail in “Re-examination”, his later painting that depicts the same boy studying during the summer before resitting his examinations.
Ms. Alexandrova is a corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Arts and the head of the Tretyakov Gallery’s department for paintings from the second half of the 20th century. She is also an expert at the Federal Service for Cultural Heritage Protection and a member of the Moscow Union of Artists.
The oil painting has a good provenance and came to the United States twenty-two years ago with Soviet immigrants, who acquired it from the family of the artist. It was previously also owned by a well-known art dealer in the U.S. and was auctioned in Florida.
Andrey Filatov, founder and financier of the Fund, said: “Discovering the earliest version of such an iconic painting has been an exhilarating and unique experience. This is an incredible find that demonstrates the ability of the Fund to track the international market and locate artefacts that add artistic and commercial value to the collection.”
'Low Marks Again' (Opyat Dvoika) 1948/1949, oil on canvas
'Arrived on holidays' (Pribyl na kanikuly) 1948, oil on canvas
The version of 'Low Marks Again' exhibited in the Tretyakov Gallery depicts the completed painting of “Arrived on holidays” on the wall in the background, while the version in possession of the Filatov Family Art Fund shows the sketch of the latter.
Fedor Pavlovich Reshetnikov (1906 – 1988) is a prominent Soviet painter who primarily worked in “Socialist Realism” genre art and is also known for his caricatures. He was born in Sursko- Litovskoe, a village in modern Ukraine, to a family of an icon painter and has studied in Vkhutein and later at the Moscow Art Institute in 1929 – 1934. In the 1930s he took part in the Soviet polar expeditions as an artist-reporter. He was the winner of two Stalin Prizes in 1949 and 1951. He taught at the Moscow State Surikov Art Institute (1953 – 1956), where he was a Professor since 1954. In 1974 he became a People’s Artist of the USSR.