This is number seven in the seasonal series of snow scene themed posts. (Don’t try to say that with a mouthful of crackers.)
The first time I came across the work of Ivan Fedorovitch Choultsé, (1877 – 1932) I couldn’t make up my mind whether he was a colourist genius or an early incarnation of the sublimely vulgar Thomas Kinkade.
On reflection, I have to give Choultsé the benefit of the doubt, because he steers well clear of the mawkish saccharine* sentimentality of America’s “Painter of Light”, and he also seems to have been able to get out of the house (or bank, in Kinkade’s case) a bit more, and do some painting from life. I would not be at all surprised to learn that Kinkade was “influenced” by Choultsé, however.
Choultsé liked snow -
Winter morning, Engadine
You have to admit that those colours are being stretched just a tad beyond the bounds of credibility. Perhaps it was an effect of the altitude…
Gooogle his name to find out about his German origins, his upbringing in Russia, and his travels as an emigré in many lands, and learn how even though he was once almost completely forgotten about, the value of his work is rising rapidly, especially with the nouveau riche oligarchy in the Russian Federation.
*=Aspartame, nowadays, but it doesn’t make such a good alliteration.
There are some potted biographies below the fold…>>>
From Reh’s Galleries website:
Ivan F. Choultse´s ability to capture light as it bathed a Mediterranean garden or skated across a snow filled landscape is what separated Choultse from many of his contemporaries. Choultse´s manipulation of light gives his work a bizarre and fantastical mood which few artists can achieve so naturally and skillfully.
Born in Petrograd in 1877; he received his first formal art training from Czar Nicholas II´s celebrated court miniaturist Krijitski.
Choultse´s artistic popularity dates from his first exhibition at the Academie des Beaux-Arts, Petrograd, in 1903. Following this noteworthy debut, he not only became an honored exhibitor at all the major galleries in Moscow and Petrograd, but was also elected court painter to Czar Nicholas II.
With this newly earned success, he was encouraged to travel abroad to explore a varied array of landscapes. Traveling throughout Europe, Asia, North Africa and the Arctic regions he was able to devote a considerable amount of time to the study of nature and the characterization of her light.
After the Russian Revolution of 1917 Choultse, because of his ties to the Czar, felt obliged to leave Russia and soon established residency in Paris … where he began to exhibit and would received a number of awards and honors.
In 1923 he displayed his first work at the Salon des Artistes Français where he not only attracted great attention but was ranked among the most prominent Salon artists. Demand for his work was increasing and his first one-man show in Paris, held at the Galleries Gerald Freres, sold out on opening day. Similar success was seen at his first one-man show in London, where all his works sold within the first six days.
Several exhibitions were arranged in New York. In 1928 the Edouard Jonas Gallery held a solo exhibition and described the artist´s landscapes as:
“…the most perfect expression of nature seen from an open window in which light is depicted with a strength and reality never before equaled … and that which fascinates above all is the freshness and harmonious strength of his colouring.”
John Levy Gallery held an exhibition of his work in 1931 and described his snow scenes as:
“…brilliant and beautiful as that aspect of nature herself.”
New York´s Hammer Galleries held a jubilee exhibition of 150 Years of Russian Painting in 1935 and described Choultse´s reputation as:
” …beloved among American collectors as a great master of snowy landscapes gilded by slanted sunbeams.”
Throughout his life Choultse was appreciated universally as a brilliant and analytical portrayer of nature. A London Times article summarized his aesthetic achievements perfectly when they stated: “It must be seen to be believed.”
FROM the ODON WAGNER Gallery:
IVAN FEDOROVICH CHOULTSE
Russian, 1877 – 1932
Choultse was a landscape painter, born in Petrograd, Russia in 1877. He studied painting with Constantin Krighitsky and became the court painter to Czar Nicholas II. After the Russian Revolution, he immigrated to Paris and in 1923 began exhibiting at the Salon des Artistes Français. Although Choultse continued to paint Russian scenes whilst in Paris, he also undertook several trips to Switzerland´s Engadine. He was fascinated with the mountainous landscape of the area surrounding St. Moritz, especially in the winter.
Critics wrote that no other artist was ever as adept at transferring the texture of settled snow to canvas. In his 1979 biography Memoirs of an Art Dealer, Toronto art dealer G. Blair Laing wrote:
He painted spectacular snow scenes in which the light seems to come from behind the canvas and glow. The critics scorned these pictures as photographic and called them non-art – but today this style of painting is called “magic-realism” and is much admired by critics and museum people. When I was at university I saw a small exhibition of his work at Eaton´s and marveled at the technical competence of the artist, but my professor of aesthetics warned me the pictures were bogus and would be forgotten in a few years. Today they are more expensive than ever.
From BURLINGTON PAINTINGS:
Ivan W. F. Choultsé
1877 – 1932
Ivan W. F. Choultsé was born in St. Petersburg in 1877 to a family of German origin named Schultze. He was first trained by Constantin Krigitsky, a court painter to Tsar Nicholas II who painted miniatures and he made his debut at the Fine Art Academy in St. Petersburg in 1903.
Choultsé´s work was well received and he continued to exhibit his work at other major galleries in St. Petersburg and Moscow and was eventually elected court painter himself. However, these were troubled times in Russia and after the Revolution of 1917 and the Tsar´s abdication, Choultsé left Russia and travelled to Europe. This is probably due to his ties with the Tsar but also because the artistic climate in Russia during this period was difficult.
Choultsé travelled to the Mediterranean and painted many summer landscapes but it was his sojourn to Switzerland which influenced the artist´s development. Whether it was because the snowy Swiss landscape reminded him of his native Russia or because he just fell in love with the monumental vistas of Engadine and St. Moritz, Choultsé was profoundly affected by what he saw there. He concentrated his efforts on studying the effects of light on nature and developed his best known themes of glorious snow-filled landscapes which are sparkling and vibrant.
Eventually settling in Paris, Choultsé adopted the French transliteration of his name. He began to exhibit his work in the Salon des Artistes Français in 1923 and he had a very successful one-man show at the Galleries Gerald Freres. Exhibitions in London and New York followed and an article in The Times summarised the artist´s achievement by saying “it must be seen to be believed”. In 1935 the Hammer Galleries held a jubilee exhibition of `150 Years of Russian Painting´ and described Choultsé´s reputation as “beloved among American collectors as a great master of snowy landscapes gilded by slanted sunbeams”. Other critics wrote that no other artist was ever as adept at transferring the texture of snow to canvas. G.Blair Laing, the Toronto dealer, wrote in his `Memoirs of an Art Dealer´ in 1979 that Choultsé “painted spectacular snow scenes in which light seems to come from behind the canvas and glow”.
Ivan Choultsé never returned to Russia, although his work was always recognised there during his lifetime and subsequently actively sought after.