Unknown artist of the second half of the 19th century. Portrait of an unknown. 1873 Automatic translate
с 1 Марта
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Калужский музей изобразительных искусств
ул. Ленина, 104
On March 1, the Kaluga Museum of Fine Arts will open an exhibition of one painting “An Unknown Artist of the Second Half of the 19th Century. Portrait of an unknown. 1873"
The museum project "Artistic Chronograph" in 2023 is dedicated to the paintings-anniversaries. One of these paintings is a canvas of the 19th century presented to the audience, which this year turned 150 years old. It is interesting that in this case we do not know either the author or the exact title of the work, and only the dating of the canvas has been preserved, which, in turn, allows us to speculate about the historical era and its reflection in art.
1870 became the most important year for Russian painting - the Association of Traveling Art Exhibitions was created. This is a famous association of Russian artists, whose activities determined the development of Russian art for decades to come. The creation of a national landscape, the reflection on the canvases of the realities and problems of contemporary life, the introduction of the common man and the peasant theme into the painting of the world - all this was the merit of the Wanderers. 1870s became the time of the formation and flourishing of the Wanderers, the formation of its ideological principles and recognition from the public. It is to this period, according to dating, that the Kaluga painting belongs.
The exhibited work is a male portrait combined with a genre scene. Written in a three-quarter turn position, a middle-aged man is depicted by the artist in the process of drinking alcohol. In his hands he holds a shot glass and a damask with a drink. In the work, the author managed to combine a detailed description of the man’s appearance with an illustration, perhaps somewhat straightforward, of the ongoing action. The half-length image, built close to the front edge of the canvas, makes it possible to consider all the physiological features of the man and the details of clothing: we see his unshaven face, inflamed and cloudy eyes, full lips, hair thrown back, and also a modest dark green attire, similar to home robe. The artist managed to quite accurately convey the internal state of the hero, his barely restrained desire to quickly use the prepared drink.
The absence of an environment and a neutral background do not allow us to judge the circumstances of what is happening and determine whether this work was conceived as an independent portrait or still as a sketch, a sketch for a larger genre composition with a developed plot. But with a fairly high degree of certainty, we can say that the creation of such an interesting canvas is a reflection of the line of the Wanderers in Russian art, with their desire for a truthful, unadorned reflection of the surrounding reality, rather even to denounce social vices. Such a reflection was one of the characteristic features of the Wandering Critical Realism. As a continuation of the theme set on the canvas, the paintings immediately come to mind: “Rural religious procession at Easter” and “Janitor giving the apartment to the mistress” by V. Perov, “I won’t let you go!” V. Makovsky, "Merchant Wake" F. Zhuravlev, sharpening, and in a rather sarcastic way, the topic of drunkenness as a social problem. The traditions of wandering are visible not only in the subject matter of the work, but also in the restrained coloring of the canvas. The discreet greenish-brown color scheme became a kind of hallmark of realist artists of the second half of the 19th century.
The Kaluga work, despite the lack of information about the author and the exact name today, is a characteristic example of Russian painting of the Wandering era, revealing this great artistic direction not only through widely known canvases, but also through small works of the masters who created at that time.
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