Kustodiev Boris – “Merchants”

At the end of 1911, while in Switzerland in a clinic, Boris Kustodiev responded to the request of the collector Fyodor Notgaft to paint a picture for him on a Russian theme at his discretion. This painting was “Merchants”. Kustodiev completed the work in 1912, having invested in it both memories of Russia, and love for “his own, Russian”, and the experience accumulated over the years. “Merchants” became one of the best creations of Kustodiev and opened an extensive series of his images of merchants, merchants, merchant life. These works fused the features of history and modernity, reality and its idealizing fantasy, “Russian taste” and the skills of an artist with the broadest cultural basis, national and Western European.

Kustodiev presented in the foreground of the picture a conversation between four merchants, smart young women, puffy, white-skinned, ruddy, full of proud dignity. The background for their group is the church and civil architecture typical of the Russian provinces, on the sides, like backstage in a theater, the edges of buildings with signs are depicted, on the left there are also baskets with apples for sale and an advertising gilded pretzel on a bracket. On one sign you can see a pyramid of vegetables and fruits, topped with imported pineapple, on the other – the inscription “Tabak” and the image of an oriental beauty with a palm tree and a starry sky. In a flowery, theatrical picture, conveying a sense of the familiar, measured way of provincial life, peace, prosperity, health, self-confidence of young merchants, Kustodiev introduced notes of soft irony. The image created by him is extremely integral, his heroines are inseparable from the environment and in no other environment could exist so naturally. All together – and a vivid show, and the embodiment of the originality of Russian life.

Year of painting: 1912.

Dimensions of the painting: 108 x 81.5 cm.

Material: canvas.

Writing technique: oil.

Genre: genre painting.

Style: modern.

Gallery: State Museum of Russian Art, Kiev, Ukraine.

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