Friday, 19 August 2016

Viktor Alexejewitsch Bobrof’s etched self-portrait


Viktor Alexejewitsch Bobrof (aka Viktor Alexeyevich Bobrov; Viktor Alekseyevich Bobroff; Viktor Alexeevich Bobrov) (1842–1918)
“Selfstportrait” (Self Portrait), c.1892, published by der Gesellschaft für Vervielfältigende Kunst, Vienna.
Etching and roulette with plate tone on cream wove paper
Size: (sheet) 39.2 x 29.2 cm; (plate) 31.8 x 29.6 cm
Lettered in the plate below the image (lower left) “Original-Radirung von V.Bobrof.”; (lower centre) “SELBSTPORTRAIT.”; (lower right) “Druck der Gesellschaft f. vervielf. Kunst, Wien.”
Condition: marvellous, richly-inked impression in pristine condition.

I am selling this marvellous self-portrait by Bobrof for AU$112 in total (currently US$85.32/EUR75.31/GBP65.03 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this beautifully executed etching, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.


Although information about this artist is thin—for instance, the British Museum does not hold any of the 100 etchings executed by him—fortunately, Sothbys offers some revealing insights (see http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2013/russian-paintings-l13115/lot.310.html). From the information that Sothbys provide, I now understand that this Russian painter and printmaker is famous for his repeated variations on a theme. Moreover, he is also famous for having been influenced by Rembrandt.

When I read about Rembrandt’s influence on Bobrof, I thought back to an Instagram follower who wrote to me requesting that I might like to offer a few thoughts/suggestions about his first attempt at etching—a copy of one of Rembrandt’s self-portraits. (I should say at this point that fortunately I am seldom asked for comments on artworks as I find the task unnecessarily demanding on my grey cells.) The print was fine but he had missed a few important attributes of the original image. The short version is that the student was using too many lines to render the portrayed hair and I proposed only showing individual hairs when they lay in the half-lights.

The reason for me thinking about this follower’s request for a critique is that this self-portrait by Bobrof is clearly not a composition devised by Rembrandt. Nevertheless, the chiaroscuro/theatrical lighting and the confident command of the etching needle exhibits (to a limited degree) some of Rembrandt’s hallmarks. There is a critical element, however, that separates the two masters: Bobrof does not employ a visual device, such as a projecting hand or piece of the surrounding architecture, to link the pictorial depth of the image with that of the physical space of the viewer. In short, Bobrof’s marvellously executed and highly creative composition is like a stone wall which can be looked at but not fully engaged with. By contrast, the “secret” of a good Rembrandt is that the image “reaches” out to viewers so that they feel welcomed into the pictorial space of the image.






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