Vladimir Tretchikoff


Artist Biography:

Born in Siberia in 1913, Vladimir Tretchikoff was one of the most commercially-successful artists of all time; believed to have earned more during his lifetime than any painter other than Picasso. He fled with his wealthy family from the Russian Revolution to Herbin, in North China, and was orphaned there at the age of 11. He later moved to Singapore, where he held a variety of interesting jobs, including a spell working as a propaganda artist for the British Ministry of Information in 1941. This gave him the opportunity to paint many famous personalities of the day. When the Japanese invaded Singapore, Tretchikoff escaped in an open boat which was then bombed and he drifted in the Java Sea with 41 other survivors for 23 days before being recaptured by the Japanese and held in Singapore until the end of the war. At the end of the war, Tretchikoff and his wife resettled in Cape Town, South Africa, where his portraits of oriental women and, to a lesser extent, his floral studies rapidly brought him enormous popular acclaim around the world. Having lived in Shanghai and Singapore, the influence of the Far East and a fascination with the exotic can be seen in most of Tretchikoff’s work. His figure studies generally featured members of African tribes or oriental women and he was always fascinated with oriental flowers, such as magnolias, which he imbued with an emotional charge through the use of dramatic composition and stark colour schemes. Vladimir Tretchikoff remained based in South Africa, where he died in August 2006.

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