Vladimir Grigoryevich Tretchikoff
Although Tretchikoff spent his early years in China, this portrait was painted in Cape Town. The model is a member of the small Chinese community there. Possibly the best known of all Tretchikoff's paintings. Lithographs of this painting can be seen in all corners of the world. Artist’s Collection, 1950’s First Hand Tretchikoff Print. This print has been produced to the highest quality under the artist’s personal supervision and is accompanied by a signed Certificate of Authentication.
To know his work is to understand an artist who became a phenomenon. A man who never compromised because he was being lead by an all-encompassing drive to do what he loved, to paint. Even in the face of adversity, he continued to pursue his passion, unashamedly.
Tretchikoff was a self-taught artist who painted realistic figures, portraits, still life and animals, with subjects often inspired by his early life in China and Malaysia, and later life in South Africa. Tretchikoff's work was immensely popular with the general public, but is often seen by art critics as the epitome of kitsch (indeed, he was nicknamed the "King of Kitsch"). He worked in oil, watercolour, ink, charcoal and pencil but is best known for his reproduction prints which sold worldwide in huge numbers. The reproductions were so popular that it was said Tretchikoff was second only to Picasso in his popularity
He quickly became famous in South Africa thanks to a book that collected his portraits of Oriental women and pictures of flowers, and held successful exhibitions in Cape Town and Johannesburg. His fame spread to the United States, where the Rosicrucians of San Jose invited him to launch an American tour. Around 19,000 people saw his show in Los Angeles and 51,000 in San Francisco. In Seattle, a rival show which included Picasso and Rothko sold fewer tickets, to Tretchikoff’s satisfaction. A million Americans finally saw his paintings, which then went on to Canada with equal success. This was followed by a large exhibition in 1961 at Harrods in London where he decided that the Harrod's art gallery was too small. He requested and was granted the privilege of having his exhibition in the ground-floor exhibition space. About 205,000 people attended the exhibition and one of his British admirers, Leslie Rigall, bought ten paintings and designed his new house in Windsor Great Park around them.
His famous Chinese Girl, a 1950 painting featuring an Eastern model with blue-green skin, is one of the best selling prints of all time. Prints of the painting became widespread during the 1960s and 1970s, and the painting was featured in various plays and television programmes: the original set of Alfie, with a drawn moustache in one episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus and an episode of Doctor Who.
Other popular paintings of oriental figures were Miss Wong and Balinese Girl. He said of British prima ballerina assoluta, Alicia Markova, who sat for The Dying Swan, that she was his most stimulating sitter.