Private collection, USA
Sale: Sotheby’s, 9 December 1988, lot 396
The Russian Art Exhibition, Grand Central Palace, New York, 1924
I. Grabar, The Russian Art Exhibition (exhibition catalogue), New York, 1924
Bogdanov-Belsky is best known for his charming genre paintings that capture the vitality of Russian children. Peasant children were always the main theme of his art. As he once remarked: ‘Children have always fascinated me; I have dedicated my life to them and still do’.
Painted in an Impressionist manner, By Lantern Light is a fine example of Nikolai Bogdanov-Belsky’s later work. The picture plane is composed of a series of swiftly applied strokes of colour, focused on a humble moment of innocence and intimacy.
Nikolai Petrovich Bogdanov-Belsky was born in 1868 in the village of Shitiki in the Smolensk Province, Russia. In 1884-1889, he studied painting at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture under the renowned painters Vasilii Polenov and Vladimir Makovsky, and then, in 1894, at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in St.Petersburg under Ilya Repin. In the late 1890’s Bogdanov-Belsky decided to continue his artistic education at the Colarossi Academy, a famous private studio in Paris attended by Gauguin and Modigliani, among others. Bogdanov-Belsky was a prominent member of several groups of artists. These included the Peredvizhniki (‘Wanderers’) – an influential group of Russian Realist painters who rejected the restraints of the Academy – and the Arkhip Kuindzhi Society, of which he was founding member and, from 1913 to 1918, chairman. Soon after the Revolution Bogdanov-Belsky left Russia and settled in Latvia. Since 1921 he lived and worked exclusively in Riga.
The artist’s works are well represented in the major Russian museums including the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, the Russian Museum and the Hermitage in St.Petersburg, the Museum of Fine Arts in Perm.