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Sleeping Shepherd Boy. Between 1823 and 1826

Venetsianov Alexei,
Oil on сanvas
27,5 x 36,5

State Russian Museum

Пост. в 1897 из ИЭ


The landscape background to this picture is a view onto the River Vorozhba from the windows of Alexei Venetsianov’s house in Safonkovo in Tver Province. The painting was first exhibited at the Society for the Encouragement of Artists in 1826. The heartfelt interpretation of this portrait of a peasant boy is typical of the Russian school of painting. Rejecting any attempts at ethnographic accuracy, it is both concrete and poetically uplifting. The device of tearing the foreground away from the background conjures up the sensation of the endless breadth and depth of the landscape. The subtle transitions of light and colour create an almost tangible feeling of the passage of life — slow in the summer heat, yet inexorable and endlessly diverse. Full of calm and tranquillity, Venetsianov’s painting introduces us to the private world of the Russian village, where the appearance of a stranger is an important event.

Author's Biography

Venetsianov Alexei

Venetsianov, Alexei Gavrilovich
1780, Moscow - 1847, Poddubie (Tver Province)
Founding father of Russian peasant genre painting. Painter, portraitist, etcher, lithographer. Son of a Moscow merchant, educated at private boarding school, worked as a draughtsman. Moved to St Petersburg (1802) and worked as a land surveyor for the crown properties and forestry departments. Studied painting independently, copied works in the Imperial Hermitage and drew pastel portraits. Academician (1811). Resigned from the civil service, moved to the country and painted genre scenes from life (early 1820s). Exhibited at the Imperial Academy of Arts and the Society for the Encouragement of Artists. Had many students, who formed the Venetsianov school in Russian art. Killed in a road accident at the Milyukov estate.

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