Oil on canvas
120 x 120
State Russian Museum
Boris Kustodiev continued to paint moving and colourful images even after illness had deprived him of the power to move independently. As commentators and the artist himself correctly noted, he inhabited a magical kingdom of recollections, daydreams and nostalgic visions.
Kustodiev’s motifs and subjects symbolised a life that had disappeared irrevocably into the past, yet had still lost none of its tart aroma. Merchant’s Wife at Tea is an excellent example of an artistic recollection of resplendent beauties, azure evenings, unhurried teadrinking ceremonies and a seemingly permanent way of life. The sumptuous still-life on the table, the gleaming samovar, the bright watermelon, the marble shoulders of the heroine — the painterly beauty and expressiveness of every detail fill the canvas with light and colour.
Kustodiev, Boris Mikhailovich (1818, Astrakhan - 1927, Leningrad)
Painter. Studied under Vasily Savinsky and Ilya Repin at the Higher School of Art, Imperial Academy of Arts (1896-1903). Fellow of the Imperial Academy of Arts in France and Spain (1903-1904). Academician of painting (1909). Founding member of the New Society of Artists (1904) and member of the Union of Russian Artists (1907), World of Art (1910) and the Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia (1923). Contributed to exhibitions (from 1900). Contributed to the periodical exhibitions of the Moscow Society of Lovers of the Arts (1900-1901), Spring Exhibitions of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1900-1903) and the exhibitions of the New Society of Artists (1904-1908), Union of Russian Artists (1907-1910), World of Art (1910-1924), Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia (1923, 1925) and the International Exhibitions in Munich (1901, gold medal; 1909) and Malmo (1914, gold medal). Designed for theatres in Moscow and St Petersburg (from 1911).