Nicolai Fechin (1881-1955)
signed 'N. Fechin' (upper right)–signed again and inscribed with title (on the reverse and stretcher)
oil on canvas
20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.6 cm.)
Painted circa 1940s.
The artist.
Eya Fechin Branham, Santa Monica, California, daughter of the above, by descent.
Private collection, Los Angeles, California, acquired from the above, 1955.
By descent to the present owners.
Archives of the Heirs of Nicolai Fechin, San Cristobal, New Mexico.
M.N. Balcomb, Nicolai Fechin, San Cristobal, New Mexico, 1975, p. 147, illustrated (as Old Man with Glasses).
F. Fenn, The Genius of Nicolai Fechin: Recollections by Forrest Fenn, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2001, p. 62, illustrated (as Old Man with Glasses).
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Lot Essay

In 1936, Nicolai Fechin traveled to Mexico where he spent six months photographing and observing the area for artistic inspiration. During this trip, Fechin photographed the model for the present work and subsequently executed two oil paintings and a charcoal sketch of the sitter. In Abuelo, Fechin tenderly captures his subject with characteristic bravura and his celebrated bold colors.

From his earliest days as a young student in Russia, Fechin was captivated by portrait painting. The widely varied faces of the people he encountered in his native Russia would provide the foundation for a storied career that spread across the globe. Like the great Ashcan artist and teacher, Robert Henri, Fechin chose his sitters based on the vitality and character they emanated, the present work clearly exhibiting his success in doing so. He was never content with merely capturing a likeness on canvas, but rather strove to portray the inner spirit of each sitter, whether that be a Russian peasant, a New York member of society, a Balinese dancer, a Mexican peasant, or the artist's most revered subject, the American Indian.
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