Vladimir Trechikoff's - The Ten Commandments

Tretchikoff acknowledged that the depiction of the Ten Commandments was his  greatest challenge during his career as an artist. He struggled for years with ideas before he suddenly realised the obvious.  The Ten Commandments were  themselves direct statements and a direct approach was required.

For many months he  painted and by the end of 1977 achieved what was a cohesive, understandable, powerful yet profound interpretation of the greatest words ever written.

These works were to be the highlight of his Jubilee Exhibition which was to take place in 1978 in a specially constructed gallery in the Santon Centre, Johannesburg.

"The Ten Commandments" by Vladimir Tretchikoff - A real rarity
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A critic wrote, “The paintings are inspired, beautiful in their sincerity and moving in their simplicity”.
Tretchikoff was blessed with the Midas Touch. One of his own favourite sayings was,  “Everything Tretchikoff Always Succeeds”, another,” I laugh all the way to the bank”  and he was proved right once more  as from these ten paintings, skilled Italian engravers created a limited number of exquisite gold replica medallions. The medallions were  struck  with precise frosted detail raised against a brilliant and flawless mirror-like background, each subjected to scrupulous quality control and checking to make sure  every replica was of  precisely the same high minting standard. Limited allocations of  500  sets  in 18 ct  gold,  5000 sets in gold-plated silver and  500 sets in solid platinum were struck under the watchful eye of the artist.  And of course they sold like hot cakes and became a much sought-after collectors’ item.

Tretchikoff - The Ten Commandments - Gold MedallionsProbably Tretchikoff would like to have thought he was the first and only artist to have his work cast in precious metals, but sadly for him this was not so.

The previous year in 1977 the famous portrait and fresco painter Pietro  Annigoni’s masterpiece “The Bud”,  was also immortalised in precious metals. The finished bas-relief  version weighed about 16 oz. and measured 6¾ x 9 inches. Annigoni, ever the perfectionist, supervised the translation of “The Bud”  first  into  250  pure sterling  silver pieces, then 150  x  24 ct  gold plated  and 20  x 18 ct gold pieces. The works were made available to South African collectors in 1977 the year before Tretchikoff marketed his collection of medallions both in South Africa and Internationally.

Tretchikoff - The Ten Commandments - Gold MedallionsAnnigoni  became famous in 1956 after painting Queen Elizabeth II.  He went on to paint Pope John XXIII, a number of American presidents, the Shah and Empress of Iran, Princess Margaret and several other members of the British Royal Family amongst other dignatories.

So in conclusion I would say that both Annigoni  and Tretchikoff, though very different in style, were very successful artists in their own right, during their life-time. Annigoni born in 1910 and Tretchikoff born in 1913,  both became exceptionally wealthy in their early forties.

Tolstoy said “great works of art are accessible and comprehensible to everyone” and here I guess Tretchikoff’s  work scored full marks and pipped any other artist to the post because he made his art available to the masses by  making reproductions of it. He has  become a legend in his time, both loved and hated world-wide, but never ignored. 

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