This original cover painting by noted Russian American illustrator Constantin Alajalov was created for the March 21, 1936 edition of The New Yorker magazine. In the scene, what remains of a crowd of concert goers (most seem to have already taken to the exits) respond in typically divergent ways to a hunched over “lost in the moment” concert pianist who has turned away from the immortal sounds of Johann Bach to offer likely more personal yet less successful musical selections. Alajalov created over 70 covers in his iconic style for this Conde-Nast publication and also contributed cover art for The Saturday Evening Post.
This important artist is best known for the covers he painted for The New Yorker magazine, which were poignant yet ironically satirical works with a sophistication appreciated by the intellectually inclined speak-easy set that called New York City it’s playground during the art deco era. This painting is beautifully framed and matted behind glass in a period gold gesso frame.
Constantin Alajalov was born in Rostov, Russia in 1900 and died in New York in 1987. From the age of 16 when the Russian Revolution scuttled his university education, until 25 when he had his first New Yorker cover published, the artist whirled through an array of jobs in Russia, Persia, and Turkey, and New York ranging from sign painter to portrait painter to court painter, engaging everything from poetry illustrations to murals.
Within three years of moving to America, Alajalov was selling his paintings to The New Yorker. Later, he also began painting for the The Saturday Evening Post and that became his lifelong career.
After submitting his last painting of an accomplished bridge player, Alajalov died at age 87. While he didn’t get very much recognition while he was alive, Constantin Alajalov is remembered now for his humorous way of painting life’s situations.