100 Avinoff Watercolors of Russian Art Treasures
Russian Ecclesiastical and Decorative Art Objects in the Collection of George R. Hann: Watercolor illustrations by A[ndrey] Avinoff.
A total of 100 watercolors, each about 5 inches high by 3 inches wide; 84 of them mounted in two volumes, the remainder loose. 2 vols. Folio (13 x 11-1/2 in.). 100 Avinoff Watercolors of Russian Art Treasures. Two full dark blue calf albums, gilt on upper covers and spines, patterned fabric doublures, linen hinges (to allow the thick volumes to open flat); fine condition. With the bookplate of George Rice Hann and that of the Library of the Westmoreland County Museum of Art in each volume. Item #11303
Mr. Hann's own record of his distinguished collection. The two large albums have typewritten title pages, and consist of original watercolors, inset behind transparent protective coverings on the rectos, with typewritten descriptions of a high order of scholarship on the facing versos, each volume illustrating 42 items: crosses, medallions, mitres, lamps, censers and other liturgical items, as well as silver, Imperial china table services, a silver spade used by Alexander II in laying the foundation of the Odessa City Park, and other relics of a non-ecclesiastical sort.
Andrey Arvinoff (1884-1949), a Russian artist who emigrated to America after the Bolshevik revolution, specialized in landscapes and portraits; he also had a successful career in commercial art. He was noted for his imaginative and skillful detail, art critics praising his “purity of line that can come from only the most delicate perception” and observing “like the other Russians who have come here, he loves to use details in wholesome quantities”. In the commercial art field, his nephew Alex Shoumatoff notes in the family chronicle Russian Blood, “his renditions of everyday household articles attracted attention as works of art.” In 1922 he was recruited by the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh to be a curator of entomology and in 1926 became the museum's director. In addition, he taught courses on Oriental and Russian art at the University of Pittsburgh. He was the ideal artist to depict George Hann's Russian objects, and his watercolors, done over pencil, are careful but not fussy; where, as is often the case, the objects are set with precious stones, his drawings shine with a radiant sparkle.
A SPLENDID, UNIQUE RECORD OF ART TREASURES WHICH IS ITSELF A WORK OF ART.
Accompanying these volumes is the catalogue of an exhibition of Russian Icons and other works of art from Mr. Hann's collection held at Carnegie Institute in 1944. It is finely bound in dark brown calf, gilt device on upper cover; apart from a little wear to extremities, it is in fine condition, and displays some of the items illustrated in the two albums.