Finely produced portfolio of illustrations by the official artist of the Citroen Central Asia Expedition, capturing the peoples and landscapes of Persia, Turkistan, Afghanistan and Mongolia.
The third Citroen mission, The Yellow Cruise, took place between April 1931 and February 1932. This motorised expedition followed Citroen’s previous successful mission across the Sahara and The Black Cruise in Central Africa. This time the route went across Asia from Beirut to Beijing, amounting to 13,000 km. It was the first time anyone had driven a car in the Himalayas and the convoy also set the world altitude record for cars – 4208m – in the process.
Yakovlev produced a captivating record of the peoples he saw on the route, including Persians, Mongolians, Kyrghyzs and Afghans. By the artist’s own admission, it was the interesting characters in traditional attire that he most enjoyed drawing, especially those with distinctive head-dresses. Yakovlev was particularly fascinated with the Baghdadi Kurds, a people whose proud and dignified air Yakovlev found very attractive: ‘If I hadn’t known that the Baghdadi Kurds who came to pose for me were just porters handling supplies for the expedition,’ Yakovlev wrote, ‘I could easily have mistaken them for descendants of the princes of One Thousand and One Nights’ (A.Yakovlev, Putevye zapiski o puteshestvii po Azii v ekspeditsii avtomobil’nogo obshchestva ‘Sitroen’, 25 April 1931).
Yakovlev was born in St Petersburg in 1887. He showed a prodigious talent as a draftsman and artist from a young age. He studied at the Imperial Academy of Arts and was awarded the status of Artist under the Tsarist regime in 1913, followed by a scholarship to study abroad. It was the start of a lifetime of travels. He and a fellow artist headed for Italy, then Spain. Their modernist-influenced exhibitions back in St Petersburg were met with mixed reactions. Nevertheless, Yakovlev won another scholarship, from 1917-1919, to the Far East, and travelled to Mongolia, China and Japan. He returned to Paris and took French citizenship.
By the time of La Croisiere Noire in 1924 Yakovlev had become an expert at painting on the spot in difficult conditions. He returned to Paris with his work and proceeded to produce prints and limited edition publications as well as a celebrated exhibition. Yakovlev was presented with a Legion of Honour by the French Government in 1926.
Folio (39 x 29 cm). Suite of 50 colour plates with “Croquis de route et notes de voyages” as a separate volume. Original card folder; some light soiling and spotting. Number 33 from the limited edition of 500 copies.
Stock ID: 95395