Her name is Nagradka, which means "Reward" in Russian. Owned by G. A. Tchertkow, she was winner of the Prize Grand Silver Medal. Her deep-set eyes tell the story: gazing away into the Steppes dreaming of flying in the wind, but instead -- aristocrat that she is -- she has deigned to stand for a portrait, tolerating the wishes of a mere mortal human. Tall, gracefully feminine and stunningly captured by an artist engaged by Imperial Russian rulers to portray their royal hunting hounds, she sets an engaging standard for sighthound portraits.
This highly detailed lithograph of a Borzoi is one printed from a group of original portraits of 28 wolfhounds sketched by Russian artist N. A. Martynow ( Мартынов, in Russian) in the late 1800s. Much later, in 1933, the House of Romanov approved production of a limited edition portfolio containing 28 of Martynow's Borzoi portraits, for export to the United States. Only 300 portfolios were printed and sold in the USA. This individual print apparently escaped from one of the portfolios.
The artist signature appears below the dog's left hind foot. The work is framed with a double mat in what certainly appears to be its original frame. It's possible the matting may (or may not) cover printed information but we will not open the frame to find out.
SIZE: The solid wood frame with applied trim is 17-3/4 inches wide and 23-3/4 inches long. The frame is 1 inch wide, and 3/4 inch thick. The IMAGE (glass) size is 15-3/4 inches wide by 21-3/4 inches long. The Borzoi itself is 6-1/2 inches tall (top of head to bottom of front foot).
CONDITION: Exquisite. PLEASE NOTE, all pictures were taken THROUGH THE GLASS. There is NO damage to the lithograph other than some very pale aging of the paper. There are NO stains. The frame is in expected condition for its age - the applied trim is missing in a few places and corners are bumped, with some paint loss, SEE OUR PICTURES. This could be restored if desired. There is NO splitting or cracking, NO missing pieces. This is clean and ready to hang! (It will stay on my bedroom wall until it leaves my home.)
BACKGROUND: Sadly, not much is known about N. A. Martynow, despite his recognition in the highest social levels as a leading artist and the premier draftsman of the Russian Empire under Tsar Nicholas I, and that much of his artwork was preserved in museums in St. Petersburg and Moscow. History is vague, but the consensus is that his father was Andrei E. Martynow (1768-1826), a widely acclaimed painter during the reigns of the Empress Catherine II and Emperor Alexander I.
Among other projects, beginning around the 1860s Martynow was chosen by the Imperial family to create portraits of their Borzoi and others owned by members of prominent, high-level families. In the late 1870s he created portraits of Borzoi that were exhibited by Imperial Society of Russia. In 1933, under the House of Romanov, 28 of these portraits were reproduced as lithographs, which were published in a limited edition of only 300 portfolios and exported to the United States. It is unknown how many full portfolios still exist, but many clearly have been broken up, because individual lithographs -- such as this one -- appear on rare occasions.
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