The totally unique Russian neoclassicist travel painter, Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev. In the early 1900s, he travelled to Italy, Spain, Mongolia, China, Japan, France, Vietnam, Syria, Iran Afghanistan and Africa. His untimely death in Paris surely robbed us of so much more.

The insanely talented and totally unique Russian neoclassicist travel painter,
Alexandre Yevgenievich Yakovlev (1887-1938).
From Self Portrait, undated.
“The Twins”.
Self-Portraits as Harlequin
and Pierrot,
(1914).
Vasiliy Shukhaev & Alexandre Yevgenievich Yakovlev.

In 1938, an obscure Russian neoclassicist painter named Alexandre Yevgenievich Yakovlev died in Paris aged just 51 after unsuccessful surgery for an unknown complaint. He left behind a scattergun, neoclassic travel diary of wonderful images of Italy, Spain, Mongolia, China, Japan, France, Vietnam and Africa. In 1938, neoclassicism wasn’t anything new, the revival of the styles and spirit of classic antiquity began in Europe in 1760 as a reaction against the then dominant Rococo style. 

But Yakovlev did his neoclassicism differently. He was a born traveller and he took it on the road.

Yakovlev, an ethnic Russian, studied from 1905-13 at the Imperial Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg and worked for art magazines like Apollon, Satiricon, Niva and New Satiricon. He befriended another Academy student, Vasiliy Shukhaev, and the pair became so inseparable they were known as “The Twins”. Then the wanderlust kicked in. In 1913 he was allowed to study abroad and, together with his “twin” Shukhaev, went to Italy and Spain. There The Twins painted an double self-portrait of themselves as Harlequin and Pierrot. Yakovlev returned to Russia in 1915. Two years later, from 1917-1919 he went to Mongolia, China, and Japan before settling in Paris and obtaining French citizenship.

In 1924, his work was part of the painting event in the art competition of the 1924 Summer Olympics. Then, between 1924 and 1925 he was travelling again, as part of the Croisière Noire (Black Cruise) expedition team into the Sahara desert and Equatorial Africa organized by André Citroën as an awareness raising exercise for his car brand and to showcase the potential of opening up a regular motorized road crossing the African continent. His African paintings were a big success and as a result Jacovleff was awarded the Legion of Honor by the French government in 1926. 

Yakovlev’s unique painting style, whilst grounded in neoclassism, ranged from Renaissance to Primitivism and later took on African influences and a new exoticism.

Between 1931 and 1932, he was the Artistic Adviser of another Citroën expedition, this time across Asia and named the Yellow Expedition. He travelled through Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Mongolia and China, and made a number of orientalist style paintings.

From 1934 to 1937 Jacovleff worked in America as the Director of the Painting Department of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. He spent the last months of his life, still painting, in Paris and in Capri, Southern Italy. 

His early death in Paris surely robbed us (and Yakovlev) of so much more.

Untitled, Africa, (c. 1926).
Untitled, Africa, (c. 1926). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Footbridge at Fort Archambault, (1926) Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
The Kuli-Kuta Dance, Niamey (1926). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Portrait of the Tribal Chief Calondo, Stanleyville, (1925). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Jarou, Djerma Horseman, (mid 1920s).
Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Banda Woman With Her Child, (1926). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Portrait Of A Member Of The Croisière Jaune
Expedition Team,
(c. 1924-1926).
Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Arturo Lopez-Willshaw, (1923).
Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Portrait of P. Montenegro, (1915).
Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Violinist, (1915). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Nakamura Utaemon, (c.1917-1919). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
The battle of the warriors, (c.1917-1919). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Portrait Of Usaemon, (1920). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Ritual Offering, (c.1917-1919).
Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Portrait of a Japanese girl, (1919).
Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Portrait of a Chinese Monk, undated.
Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Benten Kozo Kikunosuke, (1929).
Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Chinese theatre, undated.
Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Portrait of a Japanese girl, (1919).
Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Women in a Box at a Peking Theatre, (1918). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Sotheby’s.
Opera In Peking, (1918). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Portrait of a man, undated. Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Sotheby’s.
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam, (1932). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Mother And Child, Hue, Vietnam, (1932). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Penelope, (1929). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Cuisine à Tunis, (1930). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
PView Of The Port In Calvi (1930). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Fruit seller, undated.
Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Mountainside in Capri, (1925).
Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Le port de Calvi, (1930). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Sidewalk Shop, Capri, (1929). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Le Père Martin, (1921). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Mongolian Horsemen, (1933). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Mongolian scene, (1918). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Mongolian scene, (1918). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Portrait Of A Member Of The Croisière Jaune Expedition Team,
Mount Rakaposhi, Pakistan, undated. Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
In the desert of Afghanistan, (1931). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Kurds Near Kermanshah, (1932). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Polo Game At Misgar, (1931). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Polo Game At Misgar, (1931). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Nomads In The Region Of Meshed, (1932). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Paysage Chimérique, undated. Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Flowers, (1930). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
In the Cafe de la Rotonde, Montparnasse, Paris, (1927).
Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
On The Balcony, (1936).
Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Portrait Of Irene Von Radlov, undated. Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Boris Grigoriev, (c. 1920s). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Still life with table, undated.
Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Portrait of a Black Man, South Carolina, (1935). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.

Portrait Of A Woman, (c.1920s).
Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Harlequin, (1922). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Mythological landscape, (1928). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
The bather, (1928). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
The House At Port-Cros, undated. Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Standing nude, undated. Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Standing nude, undated.
Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Study of hands, undated.
Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.
Capri, (1923). Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev.

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