Watercolor, 13 x 19.75 inches/Signed lower right
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Riab was to become one of France’s most accomplished painters of sporting dogs, waterfowl and gamebirds. Born Boris Riabouchinsky into a prosperous Moscow family, he was introduced to nature and hunting on his family’s estate. He learned to speak French, English, German and Italian, and showed artistic talent, which he utilized to capture sketches of his hunting trips. Riab enrolled in the Moscow Academy of Fine Arts and studied under Visotsky and Stepanoff. He became a lieutenant in the Cavalry of Tsar Nicholas in 1916; however, after the Tsar and his family were executed in 1917 and the country’s means of production was nationalized, the Communists stole the Riabouchinsky property and the family was forced to flee Russia. Boris stayed in Russia as an army officer; but the Bolshevik regime was making his situation increasingly untenable and he left for Turkey in 1920. In December of that year the Consulate of the Netherlands (representing Russian interests) granted him a visa to visit Milan where his sister and mother now lived. It was in Italy that he decided that he wanted to be an "animalier" (animal painter). In the spring of 1923 he was granted a visa for Great Britain, followed by a stay in Montreal, Canada. From there he went to the United States, where he hunted and made sketches. He returned to Great Britain and his drawings and paintings began to sell. In 1925 he spent a year in Scotland painting landscapes and in 1927 he settled in Paris, France, and later Joinville, where his fluency in French helped him gain entry into hunting and horse racing circles. He also became acquainted with France’s most prominent breeders of sporting dogs. By 1939 he was widely known in the French "dog" world and received commissions by dog owners to paint their animals. It was around this time that he had begun signing his paintings simply "Riab". A collection of his paintings of sporting breeds were reproduced as a series of lithographs by the Paris firm of Ducker et Cie. A later book, Aquarelliste Animalier (Animal Watercolor Artist) compiled 300 of Riab’s works. From 1947 to 1950, he worked in America for Alan Rutherford Stuyvesant who was the President of the American Club of the Brittany Spaniel. He also illustrated the French magazines Saint Hubert, Sauvagine, Chasse, chiens et vénerie (Hunting, dogs and hunting), "L’éleveur" (The breeder) and Plaisirs de la Chasse (Pleasures of the Hunt). At this time Riab was exhibiting at the Galerie Daucher in Paris. In the 1950s, he participated in the Salon des Animaliers. Riab joined the l’Association Nationale des Chasseurs de Gibier d’Eau (National Association of Water Game Hunters) and becomes friends with Jean Deneuville, an advocate of protecting wetlands. Riab visited Baie de Somme in the Picardie region for several years painting the marshlands and its game. In 1964 he bought a house in Saint Vincent du Lorouer at Mortonnières on the edge of the Bercé forest, where became friends with Robert Clavel, who worked for the Office National des Forêts, which managed the Bercé forest. He painted his last watercolor in 1974 as his health had deteriorated followed by his death in 1975.