There is a special feeling to the works of artists who have travelled internationally during times of political unrest, such as Ivanoff (and Efimov.) This portrait of a woman at her dressing table reveals Ivanoff’s mastery of rendering the human body, as well as a mood. As a student in Russia, Ivanoff is believed to have studied human anatomy at a medical academy in St. Petersburg. The woman’s intent gaze is focused at her mirror while she combs her hair. One wonders what thoughts are behind this stare. The intensity and perhaps a bit restiveness keeps the viewer's focus. Ivanoff’s image is relatable to many viewers and like so many of his portraits, captures the intimate and personal nature of the scene.
Country of Origin: France.
Medium: Conte Crayon on paper.
Size: 10 3/4 inches by 8 inches.
Signed, dated: Lower right "Serge Ivanoff, Paris, 1945."
Condition: Soft handling creases, minor toning.
Sergei Petrovitch Ivanoff was born in Moscow, Russia in 1893. His parents recognized his artistic talent early and he was enrolled at the Imperial Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg at the age of ten. Political turmoil interrupted Ivanoff’s studies and in 1922, he moved to Finland. One year later, Ivanoff settled in Paris, France. Through the 1920s Ivanoff travelled through Europe, establishing himself as a portrait artist. In the 1930s and 40s, Ivanoff contributed to the French magazines L’Illustration and Plaisir de France. During this time period, Ivanoff was commissioned for several ecclesiastical portraits, including that of Pope Pius XI, the Bishop of Chartres, France, Belgium Cardinal van Roey, and Brazilian Cardinal Camara. Among other sitters painted by Ivanoff were the dancers of the Paris Opera, Paris art personality Alexandre Benois, Swiss composer Arthur Honegger, and the Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich of Russia, the uncle of Czar Nicholas II. Although most known for his portraiture, Ivanoff also painted landscapes and genre scenes, or scenes of everyday occurrences. In 1942, Ivanoff became a member of the Societe des Artistes Independants, a French artists group that was founded in 1884 with the mission of rejecting the institutionalized juried exhibitions that dictated an exclusive and conservative artistic style.
In the 1950s, Ivanoff settled in the United States, becoming an American citizen. He painted a portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt in 1950 and became a prolific portrait artist in North America. Ivanoff spent time exhibiting and travelling through Brazil, Argentina, and Europe before finally making his permanent home again in Paris in the 1960s. In 1966, he was awarded a gold medal from the French Minister of Culture.
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