Russian artist Vladimir Grigoryevich Tretchikoff
Russian artist Vladimir Grigoryevich Tretchikoff was born 100 years ago in Petropavlovsk, in the Far East of Russia, on December 13, 1913. After the revolution of 1917, Vladimir’s family emigrated with him to Chinese Manchuria. During the Second World War he was in a prison camp in Java. In 1946 Tretchikov moved to South Africa, there the talented self-taught artist Vladimir Tretchikoff became one of the top 10 artists of the country. Tretchikoff was a self-taught artist who painted realistic portraits, still life and animals, with subjects often inspired by his early life in China and Malaysia, and later life in South Africa. He worked in oil, watercolor, ink, charcoal and pencil but is best known for his reproduction prints which sold worldwide in huge numbers. The reproductions were so popular that it was said Tretchikoff was second only to Picasso in popularity.
In the UK, the artist became famous after the show of 1961, which was visited by 205,000 Britons. By 2001 Tretchikov held 52 solo exhibitions in different countries. “Tretchi” as he was called in South Africa, was also the author of such paintings as “Blue Monday”, “Lament”, “The Dying Swan”, dedicated to the famous ballerina Alicia Markova, one of the ballerinas of Diaghilev.
Tretchikov was one of the most successful artists of the XX century. Throughout his career, serious criticism refers to the work of Tretchikov, who was called a master of kitsch. His style can be called realism with elements of stylization. In his works, obviously is seen the influence of Gauguin. Tretchikoff was hated by the critics, and it really got him down. Once, he went on a tour of the US and Canada, selling his prints for £1 or so each.
In 1998 Sotheby’s of Johannesburg sold an oil-on-canvas still life for $1800, double what they expected. In 1999 Zulu Maiden was expected to fetch $1800 but went for $10,000. In October 2002 another original fetched $18,000 and in May 2008 another original fetched $480,000 at a Sotheby’s auction in Cape Town.
In March 2013 the work by Siberian-born artist Vladimir Tretchikoff “Chinese Girl” was bought at the Bonhams auction for £982,050 – nearly double its expected price – by billionaire British businessman and jeweler Laurence Graff.