LOT 309

Leon Gaspard


A Russian Peasant Woman

MEDIUM: Oil on canvas mounted to board

DIMENSIONS: 10 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches

Signed lower right


SOLD FOR: $25,740.00

Including Buyers Premium

Additional Information

Sotheby’s, London, 2016

These two pieces (lots 308 & 309) by Leon Gaspard are beautiful examples of some of the painter’s Russian work prior to his discovery of the American Southwest. In A Russian Peasant Woman, Gaspard shows the subtlety of color, composition and pose that makes his paintings so cherished by museums and collectors. “Despite the melancholy of his characters, his depiction remains joyful with its movements and poses,” according to a French newspaper, as quoted in Leon Gaspard: The Call of Distant Places. “You must reflect on it to discover the spontaneity of the imagery, perfect depictions containing emotions, which in the end oppress us, all the way to a state of anguish.”

In Winter in Siberia, this subject reflects an early period of inspiration that was first initiated during a trip to the steppes of Siberia with his father, a fur trader. Gaspard was only a boy at the time, but the experience inspired later travel to the icy coldness of northern Russia in 1899. “Gaspard felt the need to get away from the regimented life and tedium of the classroom and the city. At 17 he struck out alone for Siberia on a summer painting trip. He was sturdy, bright and confident—and, because he had already traveled extensively with his father, he had no fear of distant places. Leon paid a man 25 kopeks (about 12 cents) to allow him to ride in a horse-drawn wagon along with the man’s wife and daughter, as well as another couple. His painting materials were packed in among their supplies of axle grease, bolts of cloth and food,” writes Forrest Fenn in Leon Gaspard: The Call of Distant Places. “We don’t know how long they journeyed, but Gaspard was eventually dropped off deep in Siberia at the Kosovichi Inn and Trading Post. The inn was crowded with people and a few goats. There was a cacophony of noise and activity, and the air was filled with smoke from Majorca (a cheap, strong tobacco the men smoked) and the earthy scent of animals. Gaspard described the proprietor’s wife as being ‘fat, strong, smart and handsome.’ She charged Leon 10 rubles a month for three meals a day, a glass of milk and a small room with a cot and bearskin blanket. The inn backed up to a dense spruce and birch forest, and every day Leon sketched in the boundless outdoors. He drew the peasants, who were dressed in colorful embroidered shirts and shawls, as well as teams of horses hitched to loaded wagons. The young artist was drawn to ordinary folks living a provincial life.”


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Please note that the first unframed photo is most accurate for color. Framed photographs are to show the frame and are not color corrected to the painting.

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