Nicolaus Chimona (1866-1929), Day in Winter, Oil on Canvas
A rare and important work by well listed Russian artist Nicolaus Chimona (Nikolai, Nikolaos, Ximona, Chimonas) titled "Journee d'Hiver" (Day in Winter) and painted in 1909. Strong evidence recently discovered indicates that the painting was exhibited and sold in 1910 at the Carnegie Institute's fourteenth International Art Exhibition. Please see commentary below for additional information regarding the Carnegie exhibition and other interesting notes.
Nicolaus Chimona was born to Greek parents in Crimea and moved to St. Petersburg in 1889 where he studied art at the Baron Stieglitz Central School of Technical Drawing. In 1890 Chimona was accepted into the Imperial Academy of Art where he would study landscape painting under Russian greats Ivan Shishkin and Arkhip Kuinji for the next 7 years. In fact, during his career Chimona developed a very strong friendship and working relationship with Kuinji going on to co-found the Arkhip Kuinji Society in 1909 (the same year Journee d'Hiver was painted). Nicolaus Chimona was a successful artist during his life who managed to develop several prominent patrons throughout his career, including Prince Nicholas of Greece, and his paintings were featured in many important art exhibitions worldwide.
"Journee d'Hiver" is a rare and special work by the artist in many respects. Besides the obvious thought, it's absolutely gorgeous, the painting has other attributes that distinguish it in the artist's oeuvre. The first notion is the style of the painting with its ethereal, impressionistic mood, very reminiscent of the work of the artist's mentor, Arkhip Kuinji. The similarity is indicative of the influence Kuinji's style had on his former pupil during this period of frequent collaboration between the two, and an influence that would soon wane after Kuinji's death in 1910 as Chimona's work began to evolve into a style incorporating greater realism. It is very difficult to find surviving works from this early period in the artist's life.
Next is the size of the painting which is much larger than the majority of works by Chimona who typically painted on a much smaller scale. The large format draws the viewer into the cool, snow laden landscape which would be less effective in a smaller size painting. The prominence of the painting, coupled with the fact that it was executed on a stretched canvas which is also not usual for Chimona, further reinforces the notion that this painting was created for the important 1910 Carnegie exhibition.
The final attribute of the painting that makes it "special" in Chimona's body of work is its subject matter. The majority of paintings by Chimona that are available on the market tend to deal with Greek subjects and were created later in his career. It is extremely difficult to find an early work that captures a Russian location as in "Day in Winter".
The Carnegie Institute's fourteenth International Art Exhibition where "Day in Winter" was exhibited and sold was important in that it helped expose works by artists from around the world to a very curious American public. In fact, over 40,000 people attended the show and it received rave reviews by critics that unanimously deemed it the finest and most important international art exhibition to date. The Russian artist Nicolai Fechin also represented Russia along with Chimona in this exhibition, in fact, this would be the first time that Fechin's works were ever shown in the US.
Documentation has been collected pertaining to the exhibition and the sale of "Day in Winter" at the Carnegie Institute. Only 16 paintings were actually sold during the exhibition, of which Chimona's work was one. In fact, "Day in Winter" turned out to be one of the exhibition's biggest sensations.
As John Beatty, the Director of Fine Arts for the Carnegie Institute, noted in a letter to the artist in which he was trying to procure additional works by Chimona for the following year's international exhibition, "Your extremely beautiful and charming picture, entitled "Winter Day", which was exhibited at our international exhibition last spring, was one of the most attractive and popular pictures in the collection."
The painting was sold during the exhibition to Robert C. Hall, a banker and president of the Pittsburgh Stock Exchange, for a sum of $250. Robert Hall was an important art collector during this period, and he was a patron to many of the nation's most important artists at the time. Hall died a few years after purchasing "Day in Winter", and his widow was forced to sell her husband's art collection in 1914 to pay off debts .
FRAMED: HEIGHT: 44 in | WIDTH: 54 in
UNFRAMED: HEIGHT: 35½ in | WIDTH: 45½ in
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CONDITION: The canvas has been professionally relined and restretched with later stretcher bars. Under UV examination scattered areas of restoration and in-painting can be seen