Lot 499: My Favourite Model
May Day, 1964
Northern Song, 1966
Evening, 1966

Gennady Myznikov was born in the small suburban city of Orekhovo – Zuebo, to a working class family. It was during his childhood that Myznikov developed the distinctively bold and bright style, used to render Russian provincial life, which was to define his career. 

In 1958, after graduating from the Leningrad Academy of Arts, Myznikov returned to his home town and once again subsumed himself in the atmosphere of the Russian province. He was drawn to the colour and exoticism of the traditional rural existence and he produced work inspired and informed by Konstantin Yuon, Boris Kustodiev, old Russian painting and folk art.

By the mid-1960’s, Myznikov was already an established name within the Russian artistic scene, known for his large compositions and for including historical motifs within his works. He was, at this time, engaged in producing works that glorified the proletariat and the Soviet vision, such as ‘May Day’ of 1964, a painting inspired by revolutionary events that had occurred at the Morozov Factory.

Although he primarily produced genre paintings that depicted the life of his local village, in the mid-1960’s Myznikov took a trip to the North of Russia, with artists Kim Britovi and Viktor Popkov. This trip served to strengthen Myznikov’s confidence in his own style. His work Northern Song, made in 1966, on this trip, is perhaps his most critically successful work. Imbued within it is a sense of the beauty of world, love for fellow man as well as a touch of the tragedy of human existence.

During the second half of the 1970’s Myznikov’s style began to shift; his brushwork became more variable, his work more challenging. He began to take stronger influence from the 19th century Russian tradition and the classical Western European canon.

Throughout his life, Myznikov had painted his beautiful wife, a former model. ‘Evening’ of 1966, shows her sat on a bank in a red dress; his reverence for her loveliness is obvious. In 1991, when she would have been fairly aged, he produced both ‘Etude’ and around that time, Lot 499 in our sale ‘My Favourite Model’. Working from memories and photographs, Myznikov shows her still young and beautiful, unaffected by time, as was clearly, his love for her.

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