Kustodiev Boris – “The merchant’s wife at tea”

Beginning in 1912, the artist has been creating a whole cycle of portraits of the Russian merchants, whom he was well acquainted with since childhood, when his family was only renting an outbuilding in a merchant’s house. The first of the works in this cycle is considered to be the painting “The Merchants”, but perhaps the most interesting is “The Merchant’s Wife at Tea”. Here Kustodiev, as in many of his other works, introduces a convincingly written still life through which the content of the image and the environment in which he placed his heroine is revealed.

Although a student of the medical institute Galina Aderkas posed for the artist for this work, the heroine is a collective image of a Russian merchant, symbolizing a whole layer of society that has irrevocably gone into the past. In this picture, the artist paid great attention to small details: a cat lazily rubbing against a woman’s shoulder, a table with refreshments, an elegant iridescent dress, a balcony in the background, where a married couple also drinks tea – all this creates an image of a calm, comfortable life, directly opposite to everything that surrounded the artist in the post-revolutionary years.

Year of painting: 1918.

Painting dimensions: 120 x 120 cm.

Material: canvas.

Writing technique: oil.

Genre: portrait.

Style: modern.

Gallery: State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

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