Analysis of Goncharova and Larionov Works in the Museum Ludwig Collection: Findings

We are delighted to announce the outcomes of our grant-funded project and present you the summary of the findings. Over the last year Art Analysis & Research (AA&R) worked closely with the Museum Ludwig to examine the collection of 14 paintings by the 20th century Russian artists Natalia Goncharova and Mikhail Larionov. Find out more about the project here.

The research included using broad spectrum of advanced technologies (carbon 14 dating, 3D mapping) alongside proven analytical methods (X-rays, Infrared, pigment and binding media analysis) and contextual technical art history. This interdisciplinary study has provided new understanding on the working practices of these artists, allowing for a richer and more nuanced understanding of their work. We are pleased to make this information available – you may find the summary of the findings below, as well as download detailed reports from Art Analysis & Research (AA&R) and Museum Ludwig below. 

Through analysis of the works by Natalia Goncharova and Mikhail Larionov a clearer, more detailed picture of their individual work and interrelationships has been obtained, revealing:

  • Their experimentation with paints, including the use of tempera in addition to oils, shows them to have been part of a movement among Russian Avant Garde artists, who were keen to explore their artistic traditions such as in the use of the icon-painting techniques.
  • The ways in which they developed their paintings, such as the previously unidentified extensive use of preparatory drawing on the canvas.
  • Discovery of compositions abandoned by the artists, painted over as reused supports for new paintings.
  • Clarification of a faded signature on Larionov’s Venus
  • Key revisions to the dating of several of the works.
  • Similarities and differences in the working processes of these two artists.
  • Changes of materials and techniques, especially reflected in their move from Russia to France c. 1921.
  • Significant issues for conservation and preservation of these culturally important works of art.

Goncharova and Larionov present a particularly fascinating study of artists’ practices. As an artist couple, their shared approaches and influences on each other give insight to a close working relationship. As members of leading artists’ groups across Russia and Europe such as the ‘Jack of Diamonds’, ‘Moscow Futurists’ and ‘Blue Rider’, Goncharova and Larionov’s work was also highly influential on early 20th century modernism; thus, information collected on their materials and techniques also provides wide ranging implications for the study of their early 20th century contemporaries.

REPORTS ON FINDINGS: Please click on the relevant link (in red) to download the report.

Artist Date / title / size
1 Natalia Goncharova 1905 / Landschaft von Tiraspol (Landscape of Tiraspol) / Canvas, 70 x 88.5 cm

2 Natalia Goncharova 1908 / Rusalka (Wassernymphe) (Rusalka – Water Nymph) / Canvas, 104 x 74 cm

3 Natalia Goncharova 1908 / Stilleben mit Tigerfell (Still Life with Tiger Skin) / Canvas, 140 x 136.5 cm

4 Natalia Goncharova 1912 / Die jüdische Familie (The Jewish Family) / Canvas, 164 x 131 cm

5 Natalia Goncharova 1916 / Orangenverkäuferin (Orange Seller) / Canvas, 131 x 97 cm

6 Natalia Goncharova 1913 / Porträt von Larionow (Portrait of Larionov) / Canvas, 105 x 78 cm

7 Michail Larionov c. 1906 / Stilleben mit Kaffeekanne (Still Life with Coffee Pot) / Canvas, 81.5 x 45.2

8 Michail Larionov c. 1907-1912 / Stilleben (Still Life) / Canvas, 46 x 81 cm

9 Michail Larionov 1907 / Stilleben mit Hummer (Still Life with Crayfish) / Canvas, 80 x 95 cm

10 Michail Larionov c. 1910 / Porträt eines Mannes (Portrait of a Man (Anton Beswal) / Canvas, 110 x 80 cm

11 Michail Larionov 1911 / Rayonismus Rot und Blau – Strand (Rayonism, Red and Blue – Beach) / Canvas, 52 x 68 cm

12 Michail Larionov 1912 / Rayonistische Würstchen und Makrelen (Rayonistic Sausage and Mackerel) / Canvas, 46 x 61 cm

13 Michail Larionov 1912 / Venus / Tempera on Canvas, 36 x 73.5 cm

14 Michail Larionov 1916 / Rayonistische Komposition (Rayonistic Composition) / Gouache on black paper, 45 x 56 cm