T00651 Old Peasant 1878
Inscribed in cyrillic 'I. Repin | 1878. Moskva' b.l.
Oil on canvas, 34 3/4 x 26 3/4 (88.5 x 68)
Bequeathed by Peter Provatoroff 1964
Prov: [?V.O. Girshman, Moscow]; Evelyn Reynolds; Mrs Stephen Winkworth, London; sold by her at Sotheby's, London, 7 June 1961, lot 86 as 'Portrait of a Bearded Man'; bt. Peter Provatoroff, London, ?190
Lit: Igor Grabar, Repin (Moscow 1937), Vol.2, p.267
Repin returned to Russia before his travelling scholarship expired and from 1876 devoted himself mainly to the study of the peasants and country people of his native Chuguyev. This oil sketch is not directly related to any of his large compositions, and seems to belong to the series of peasant portraits which he made towards the end of the 1870s, such as 'Peasant with a Damaged Eye'. The list of Repin's works compiled and published by Igor Grabar in 1937 includes under 1878 a sketch of an 'Old Peasant', formerly coll. V.O. Girshman, Moscow. The Girshman collection was taken over by the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, in 1918, but this particular item was not included and has not so far been identified in art historical literature. The Girshmans may have already parted with it, and the possibility cannot be ruled out that it is the work now in the Tate.
Evelyn Reynolds, from whom Mrs Winkworth obtained it, belonged to a very rich family of timber merchants in Russia, and lost everything in 1917, except a few pictures. (It is not known whether this was one of them). He then made his living by buying and selling works of art privately, and had at various times a number of important works obtained through his Russian connections.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.628-9, reproduced p.628