At the turn of the 19th century, the Russian painting school, long dominated by itinerant painters, opened again to exchanges with the modern West. Groups and magazines are created, mostly opposed to realism, and symbolist in orientation. Thus The World of Art (1898-1924), or The Blue Rose (1907-1910). In 1908, the magazine La Toison d'Or organized its first Salon in Moscow which brought together Russian and French post-impressionist paintings; Nabis artists were widely represented with works by Maurice Denis, Félix Vallotton, Édouard Vuillard and Paul Sérusier.
Denis, whose works were commented in avant-garde magazines from 1899, exhibited in Russia at least four times before the October Revolution. It is also present in private collections, through acquisitions by Mikhail and Ivan Morozov, Sergei Shchukin, and Sergei Scherbatoff. In 1909, the artist went to Moscow at the invitation of Ivan Morozov, sponsor of the eleven panels of the History of Psyche (1908-1909) for the music room of his private mansion. He collects his impressions in his Diary and in his Russian Notebook. These will be transposed into painted landscapes, including views of the Kremlin or, as here, the Transfiguration Church of the Novodievitchi Convent.
For this virtuoso pochade realized on a small panel, Denis finds his nabie vein: the line is fast, the formal synthetic analysis, the palette of a great cheerfulness in the contrast between the bright colors of the architecture and the whiteness of the snow, the scene comes to life with a sled and the silhouettes of a woman and a pope. Although some have contested the autograph character of the date of 1908 which appears after the signature, this probably refers to the Julian calendar, according to which Denis arrived in Russia with his wife Martha on 24 December 1908 (6 January 1909).
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