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Art Index: Natalia Goncharova

“The West has shown me one thing—everything that it has comes from the East.”

- Natalia Goncharova

Self-Portrait with Yellow Lilies © Natalia Goncharova


Natalia Sergeevna Goncharova (Russian: Ната́лья Серге́евна Гончаро́ва, July 3, 1881 – October 17, 1962) was a Russian avant-garde artist, painter, costume designer, writer, illustrator, and set designer.

Born into Russian nobility, her family was related to Alexander Pushkin and owned numerous estates and villages in the south of Moscow. She spent her childhood in the province of Tula and moved to Moscow with her family in 1891. Here Gončarova studied first medicine, then history, and in 1898 she entered the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture as a student of sculpture, a path that she later abandoned in favor of painting. During her years in the academy, she became acquainted with painter Michail Larionov, with whom she would share an artistic-romantic partnership her entire life.

Still very young, she participated in 1906 in an exhibition of Russian painters at the Salon d'Automne in Paris, an occasion that gave her visibility and affirmation and stimulated her interest in the paintings of Impressionists, Fauvism and the Russian figurative tradition.

Portrait of Larianov © Natalia Goncharova

She withdrew from the Moscow Institute in 1909, where at the time women had no right to receive a degree, in favor of classes at Illia Mashkov and Alexander Mikhailovsky's studios, where she was able to study male and female nudes, and was trained the equivalent of what she would have learnt upon completion at the Moscow Institute had she been male.

In 1910, a number of students were expelled from Konstantin Korovin's portrait class for imitating the contemporary style of European Modernism, with Goncharova, Larionov, Robert Falk, Pyotr Konchalovsky, Alexander Kuprin, Ilya Mashkov amongst them and

Together they formed Moscow's first radical independent exhibiting group, the Jack of Diamonds, which was named by Larionov.

The group remained active until December 1917. During this period Goncharova would intentionally depart from the influences of European art and manifest the will to create a new independent school of Russian modern art.

Natalia is inspired by Russian icons, true images of the country's folklore, known as lubok.

Portrait of a Woman © Natalia Goncharova

In 1913 she was in Paris to create the scenography of Le Coq d'Or; It was her first collaboration with Sergej Pavlovič Djagilev of the Ballets Russes, for which she continued to design costumes and sets until her death in 1929.

Goncharova and Larionov traveled to Italy for the first time in April 1914 and returned from October 1916 to April 1917 to work with Diaghilev on the staging of Les Contes russes, thus deepening their relations with the Futurists, as documented by some photographs taken by Marinetti, during their visit to the “Great exhibition. Umberto Boccioni, at the Galleria Centrale d'Arte" in Milan. Goncharova investigated futurism by focusing on the figure of machines, not to reflect the future, but to analyze the state of the mechanized world.

After the first collaboration with Diaghilev for the show “Le coq d'or”, Natalia and Larionov decided to move to France and to continue working for the Russian Ballets. The sketches and the creation of sets and costumes were affected by the artistic avant-garde embraced and promoted by both but, at the same time, they expressed appreciation for the Russian tradition.

In 1919 she moved permanently to Paris where she would remain until her death.

Today, her works are included among the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.


Spanish Dancers © Natalia Goncharova

According to Goncharova's turnover in 2020 is $532,490 with the last peak in price dated 2009.

The oldest auction result ever registered on the website for an artwork by this artist is a painting sold in 1983, at Charbonneaux (S.V.V.), and the most recent auction result is a drawing-watercolor sold in 2021, specially: drawing-watercolor, painting, print-multiple, photography, sculpture-volume, tapestry.

On June 18, 2007, Goncharova's 1909 painting Picking Apples was auctioned at Christie's for $9.8 million, setting a record for any female artist at the time. She is considered one of the most expensive women artists at auction, and her work features in Russian art auctions during the bi-annual Russian Art Week in London.

In November 2007, Bluebells, (1909), brought £3.1 million ($6.2 million). In 2008, Goncharova's 1912 still-life The Flowers (formerly part of Guillaume Apollinaire's collection) sold for $10.8 million.

Most of her works were sold in the range of $10,000-$50,000.

Distribution by price (by Artprice)

There are no artworks by the artist currently listed in upcoming public auctions.


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