One of the most successful Russian émigré artists of the 1920-30s, Konstantin Gorbatov is as famous for his sun-drenched landscapes as he is for his nostalgic depictions of Old Russia. Gorbatov's oeuvre can be divided into two distinct periods: Russian, from approximately 1905-1922; and abroad from 1922 until his death in 1945.
Born in Stavropol in the Samara province, Gorbatov studied at the Baron Stieglitz Central School for Technical Draftsmanship before enrolling at the Architecture Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in St Petersburg in 1904. A year later Gorbatov transferred to the Painting Department where he was taught by V. Dubovskoi and A. Kiselev.
Inspired by Ilya Repin and Arkhip Kuindzhi (Gorbatov was a member of the Kuindzhi Society from its inception), Gorbatov's fascination with landscape combined a Peredvizhniki sensibility with a romantic tone, exemplified by his work depicting the Volga valleys and ancient Rus'.
In 1911 Gorbatov received the title of Artist and a gold medal at the international exhibition in Munich for his painting They've Reached the Shore (Varangian Guests). The scholarship that ensued enabled him to travel in 1912 to southern Europe, including Italy. Having visited Rome, Gorbatov travelled further south to Capri on the invitation of Gorky.
The warm light of the Amalfi and Sorrento coasts appealed to Gorbatov's aesthetic. The lighter, brighter brush-strokes of the Impressionists seemed perfectly suited to the vibrant hues of his surroundings and Gorbatov's work was transformed.
Following the 1917 Revolution Gorbatov returned to Italy, settling first in Capri and later in Venice. Frequent visits to Naples, Venice, Amalfi and Ravello resulted in a prolific creative period, characterised by the interplay of nature and architectural motifs. The composition of the present painting, a seascape framed with a fishing village, was a frequent source of inspiration as were rocky landscapes interrupted with white roofs and terraces intertwined with grapevines.
In 1926 Gorbatov moved to Berlin. As the political situation worsened and an attempt to return to Russia was blocked, Gorbatov repeatedly escaped to Italy and Russia in his work. Having witnessed the Soviet armies march into Berlin, Gorbatov died in 1945.