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Natalya GONCHAROVA | Peasants dancing
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Russia 1881 – France 1962
Switzerland and Spain 1915-17, France from 1917
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Peasants dancing [Khorovod (Round Dance)] 1910-11
oil on canvas
92.0 (h) x 145.0 (w) cm
frame 155 (w) cm
not signed, not dated
Purchased 1991
NGA 1992.1
© Natalia Goncharova. Licensed by ADAGP & VISCOPY, Australia
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Natalia Goncharova was born at Nagaevo, near Tula, in Russia, on 22 June 1881. In 1898 she enrolled at the Moscow Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, initially to study sculpture, but in 1900 she changed to painting. At the Moscow Institute she met Mikhail Larionov who became her lifelong companion. In 1906 she contributed to the Russian section of the Salon d'Automne, Paris, and between 1908 and 1910 she contributed to the three exhibitions organised by Nikolai Riabushinsky, editor of the journal Zolotoe runo (The Golden Fleece). In 1912 Goncharova exhibited with the Blaue Reiter group in Munich, and in the same year both she and Larionov were represented in the English critic Roger Fry's Second Post-Impressionist exhibition at the Grafton Galleries, London. While initially active in fostering this liaison with the west, Goncharova and Larionov were also founding members of a number of renegade groups, notably Bubnovyi Valet (Jack of Diamonds) 1910, Osliny Khvost (Donkey's Tail) 1911, and Mishen (Target) 1913, which advocated an independent school of modern Russian painting and for inspiration looked not to the west, but to the indigenous folk art of Russia with its roots in the east. In 1914 Goncharova was commissioned by Les Ballets Russes de Serge Diaghilev to design the sets and costumes for Le Coq d'or (The Golden Cockerel), and the success of this production, which premiered in Paris in May 1914, led to a long association with Les ballets Russes. In 1915 Goncharova and Larionov left Russia and joined Diaghilev in Switzerland, and in 1917 they settled in Paris. During the war years they designed numerous productions for Les Ballets Russes and also acted as Diaghilev's chief artistic advisers, prompting him to commission stage designs from other well-known artists of the avant-garde. After the death of Diaghilev in 1929, and except for occasional contributions to exhibitions, Goncharova and Larionov lived virtually unrecognised and impoverished in Paris. In 1961 this neglect was partially redressed when their work was shown in a large exhibition by the Arts Council of Great Britain. Goncharova died in Paris on 17 October 1962.

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