This ravishing nude was painted before Fechin's departure to the United States and the expressive brushstrokes and thick application of paint show the clear influence of the French Impressionists. The voyeuristic composition of a woman spied on from behind as she admires a string of pearls also recalls the works of Degas and Renoir.
Female nudes make up a small but significant portion of Fechin's oeuvre. His earliest nudes, painted in the 1910s, evoke the Russian realist tendencies promoted by his teacher Ilya Repin and the St Petersburg Academy. In these early works, tight lines and carefully delineated brushstrokes create a form which is light but carefully delineated. Fechin soon began to experiment with a looser more expressive technique, using bolder lines and a stronger use of colour. Fechin never progressed into a fully abstracted figure, for he was "…too enchanted with the natural beauty of the human figure to abstract it so fully" (Mary Balcomb, Nicolai Fechin, 1999, p.70).
This nude was painted at a time of great deprivation after the end of the First World War. Fechin sought to counteract such negativity with his art which expresses a strong sense of escapism and artistic freedom. It was a desire to maintain this freedom that led to his emigration to the United States in 1923.
Oil on canvas
71cm x 66cm
Nicolai Ivanovich Fechin was a Russian-American painter best known for his portraits, full of colour and dynamism. He is both the most prominent member of the Kazan Art School as well as perceived as an American painter by many in the US. Educated in Kazan and Imperial Academy of Arts in St Petersburg, Nikolai Fechin was a disciple of Ilya Repin.
In 1923, Fechin emigrated to the US, first settling in New York and then moving to Taos, New Mexico. The artist's life and creative work were divided between Russia and US, with the artist developing a following in both countries. Fechin was an exquisite colourist and was intoxicated by the breadth of tones which the New Mexican landscapes offered him. A trip to Siberia in 1904 had intially fuelled Fechin's fascination with native people and cultures and this interest was re-kindled in New Mexico in his later years.