This portrait by Vladimir Baranoff-Rossine (1888–1944) was completed in St Petersburg and it shows a cubist influence, the dynamism associated with futurism as well as a colourful lyricism. The palette is already not dissimilar from Sonia Delaunay with whom he was later to co-operate in Paris in the development of Orphism. They were both Jewish emigrants from Ukraine anduntil 1914 he was a resident in the artist’s colony La Ruche. This was an old three-storey circular structure- hence its name which is French for ‘ The Beehive’- situated in the 15th Arrondissement on the Left Bank and originally designed by Gustave Eiffell as a temporary building in the decidedly colourful area called the Passage Dantzig.
According to the Oxford Art On-Line, “His proximity in the mid-1900s to the artists of the nascent avant-garde, especially David Burlyuk and Vladimir Burlyuk, was of decisive importance to his stylistic development. Contributing to The Link (Kiev, 1908) and their other exhibitions in Moscow, Kiev and St Petersburg, he supported their stand against Realism and the Academy, favouring a brightly coloured post-Impressionism reminiscent of Georges Seurat and Louis Valtat.”
Amongst those considered as key figures in the development of painting before Matisse is the painter and print maker, Louis Valtat. He was a close friend of the Nabis. The latter used simple areas of pure colour and along with Gaugin, these influenced Valtat towards the purity of form, line and colour known as synthetism. His later work is also considered by some, notably Natalie Henderson Lee as proto-Fauvist. This was no doubt due to the time he later spent near the Mediterranean which intensified his use of colour.
Because Vladimir Baranoff-Rossine was fond of a bright coloured palatte it was said that he was influenced by the post-impressionism of both Seurat and Valtat. It is interesting how much information seems to have been flowing between Paris and St Petersburg in the mid 1900s partly due to the influence of art magazines. It was also supported by the influence of the members of the group The Link (Zveno) the Burliuks organized an avant-garde exhibition in Kiev.
Rossine’s self portrait was painted when he was just nineteen. The work already shows his movement towards a orphic style although his palette is not that far away from the colours employed by Nathan Altman in his The Ziger Macher (the watch mender). The notes from Hammersite.com suggest that this particular portrait was painted about 1914 and go on to say,” The painting is from the period Altman exhibited with The Jack of Diamonds group and attempted to express Jewish national identity utilizing a contemporary style. “
When Rossine moved to Paris in 1910, he will have come into a situation where critics such as Apollinaire, Gleizes and Vauxcelles were developing and defining the Cubist project. In addition he was already associated with the rather more expressionist style from the Russian cities such as the Burluik brothers. It must have been a period of quite frenzied excitement leading to the many innovative works.The crescendo came in Paris by 1913. (See The Essay at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01pt70h) Other interesting figures within this general ambit include Jean Metzinger, František Kupka, a Czech painter, David Sheterenberg and the Ukrainian Avant-Garde Sculptor, Alexander Archipenko. The latter possibly an influence on Rossine’s own sculptural work.
More Rossine paintings can be viewed at http://www.flickriver.com/photos/tags/Rossine/interesting/