Wassily Kandinsky: Rapallo, Boote (1905)

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Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) , Rapallo, Boote (1905), signed, inscribed and indistinctly dated ‘KANDINSKY Rapallo-Boote’ (on the reverse), oil on canvasboard , 9½ x 13 in. (24 x 32.9 cm.), Source: Christie’s

Abandoning a promising legal career in Moscow at the age of 30, Kandinsky traveled to Munich to study painting. From 1903 and for the next five years he traveled widely throughout Russia, North Africa and Europe, arriving with companion Gabriele Münter in Rapallo on Italy’s North West coast in December 1905. They rented a house on the via Montebello from 23 December until 30 April 1906. Vivian Endicott Barnett notes that “Kandinsky painted the view from the house they rented in via Montebello and also numerous scenes of the bay. In the Italian landscapes there is an emphasis on pastel colors and a greater freedom of execution…The bright light of Tunisia and Italy resulted in higher-keyed-tonalities in Kandinsky’s pictures” (Vasily Kandinsky, A Colorful Life, New York, 1996, p. 127).

This nearly six-month stay heralded a shift in Kandinsky’s aesthetic as he explored the pictorial possibilities of the landscape around him. Working primarily in oil and often in a small format, Kandinsky worked to capture the atmosphere and ambience of the port and seascapes he saw from the harbor. Kandinsky’s use of the palette knife to apply his paint in thickly worked and textured strokes lends paintings such as Rapallo, Boote a rich, expressive quality that in its immediacy and simplicity anticipates the artist’s later development.


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