Alexandre Roubtzoff never painted anything just to follow the trend, the fashion of his time. His work never was one of indulgence. He knew how to be delicate and meticulous at a time when making something "beautiful" was a sign of decadence. He painted without being influenced, on the pattern, modifying his style depending on the subject.


The Russian years
He is 20 in 1904 when he enters the Imperial Fine Arts Academy in Saint-Petersburg. One of his professors there is a good friend of his: the Polish painter Zionglinski. Roubtzoff specialises, as himself writes it, in interior paintings. Among them are the famous Red Lounge and Yellow Lounge bought by the Fine Arts Museum. One of these works has him awarded the Great Prize of the Academy and a four year scholarship to help him travel in Spain and Tunisia.

His first orientalist works mostly deal with daily life scenes. His subjects evoke the domestic chores of housewives: grinding, cooking, spinning or weaving. Roubtzoff is above all interested in the gestures and attitudes of his models. He also considers the costume and tatoos.

Trained to observe reality and capable of faithfully reproducing the features of his models, his talents are often required as a portraitist. His clients are wealthy families of European settlers. In his portraits, Roubtzoff does not make show of new ideas but rather initiates a real relation with tradition.

From 1915, Roubtzoff starts exploring the country. He goes back to the South, the part he likes most, in 1918, by a different path from the one he took the first time. Unlike the other orientalists who mostly stayed in the East for a while, and usually close to the coast, before going back, Roubtzoff goes further deep in the country, geographically and culturally. He travels to the very South, in areas barely inhabited.

The 20's are dedicated to numerous travels across Europe. Roubtzoff often goes to his Tunisian friends' houses: in England, France, Turkey with the Orient-Express in 1924. He visits a lot and tries to reflect in his paintings the local architecture. From 1924 onwards, year of his being naturalized French, he claims to be "French born in Russia". The 20's are hence the time when France as a whole represents a major part of his life and work.


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