How Mikhail Konchalovsky Interfered with Attribution of Petr Konchalovsky

A meeting of the expert council of the Preservation Foundation of Petr Konchalovsky’s Cultural Heritage took place in Moscow on October 13. Although the institution was established relatively recently – in May 2006, the experts of the Foundation decided to hold a public session.

Usually, meetings of experts in attribution of artworks are held behind close doors. Specialists make decisions concerning authenticity of this or that art piece in privy: representatives of mass media are not welcomed there.

However, this time the Director of the Foundation Alexander Konov suggested holding an open meeting. The attendees agreed with the chairperson. Thus, Natalia Kazakova, journalist of «Antiq.Info» magazine witnessed how the members of the Foundation attributed several works by prominent Russian artists Petr and Mikhail Konchalovsky.

The council consisted of the leading Russian art experts and connoisseurs of Konchalovsky’s oeuvre: the Deputy Director of the State Tretyakov Gallery Lidia Iovleva, the Head of a department of the Gallery and expert of Ministry of Culture of Russian Federation Tatiana Ermakova, Senior Research Associate of Igor Grabar Research and Restoration Center Irina Gerashchenko, Doctor of History of art Andrei Sarabianov and the Director of the independent expertise company «Art Consulting» Denis Lukashin.

The main objective of the council was to authenticate eleven artworks, reportedly painted by Petr Konchalovsky. After comprehensive expert examination, the specialists unanimously acknowledged that six of the paintings were created by Petr Konchalovsky, one of the founders of the famous Russian art group «Knave of Diamonds». Among those works were both well-known Konchalovsky’s paintings («Birch in Early Spring» (1931) and «The Road. The Dead Tree» (1930) and rare pieces that appeared at the antiquarian market for the first time (a winter landscape «Village Potryasovo in Winter»). Notably, throughout his life Petr Konchalovsky created only ten winter landscapes.

As you know, experts can either unanimously state the authenticity of a painting, renounce a painting or demand further examination. The main intrigue of the meeting was that the other five paintings could be created by either the father (Petr) or his son (Mikhail) Konchalovskys. Curiously, Mikhail Konchalovsky interfered with attribution of Petr Konchalovsky.

Technological expertise failed to reveal the authorship of the works as both artists used similar paints, colorings and other accessories because they worked in the same studio. Still, two landscapes (of five remained) were unanimously attributed to Mikhail Konchalovsky, due to certain «academism» of the latter (according to Irina Gerashchenko), while the works of Petr Konchalovsky have distinct «Cezanne-like» traits (according to Andrei Sarabianov).

Most likely, the other three works were created by Petr Konchalovsky. However, the experts decided to hold an additional expertise, as those paintings were not quite typical for the artist. The experts were divided on the issue of the canvas «Ducks at a Pond». Some believed that it was painted in 1930s (Tatiana Ermakova), while the other dated the work the late 1940s (Irina Gerashchenko).

There were heated discussions on the matter of two woman’s portraits. It was clear that one of the portraits depicted the same models as the famous Petr Konchalovsky’s painting «Spaniard Women» (1937). The present owner purchased the latter work from the descendants of the artist. The pencil sketch to the second portrait belongs to the Konchalovsky family now. That sketch was made by Mikhail Konchalovsky. Still, the experts disputed about the authorship of the portrait. The final decision concerning the last three artworks will be made after additional examination.

Photos provided by Petr Konchalovsky Foundation

Petr Konchalovsky is considered one of the most sought-after Russian artists at the international art market. Moreover, he is among of the most expensive ones as well. His «Portrait of Yuri Petrovich Yuriev» (1913) fetched the record $1,500,000 at a Sotheby’s London auction last year. Works by the prominent painter are constantly rising in price.
Petr Konchalovsky created great many artworks (he continued working even when he was 80 years old). Each year collectors take Konchalovsky’s works to various expert companies. About 30-40 per cent of paintings that are attributed to him, turn out to be fakes. It is the evidence of the great popularity of the artist.
Konchalovsky Foundation certifies authenticity of artworks by the painter. It offers full range of services concerning examination of Konchalovsky’s works. During half a year of the Foundation’s existence, it received eleven requests for authenticity expertise.

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Published in: on November 15, 2006 at 2:28 am  Leave a Comment  
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