"On the Boulevard": what is hidden in the details of the painting by Vladimir Makovsky
"On the Boulevard": what is hidden in the details of the painting by Vladimir Makovsky
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Vladimir Makovsky. On the boulevard, 1886-1887

February 7 (old style - January 26) marks 171 years since the birth of the famous Russian the itinerant artist Vladimir Makovsky… His genre paintings, which depict scenes of the everyday life of ordinary people, have long become textbooks. The most famous of them is "On the Boulevard" (1886-1887). As in most of the artist's works, its true essence and deep psychologism are revealed only with a detailed study of the picture.

Konstantin Makovsky. Portrait of V. E. Makovsky, the artist's brother, 1868

Even before the abolition of serfdom, peasants sometimes had to go to work in the city - "to go on a quitrent." And after 1861, this phenomenon became widespread: the so-called "out-of-pocket fishing" was often the only way to make ends meet. The peasants were hired as laborers, barge haulers, clerks, artisans, sex workers in taverns, etc. At the same time, breaking away from their familiar environment, they often became victims of the big city: many returned to the village drunkards or crippled.

Vladimir Makovsky. Self-portrait, 1905

It is to this theme that Makovsky's painting "On the Boulevard" is dedicated: a young wife came from the village to Moscow to see her husband, a craftsman. She has a baby in her arms, which, perhaps, her husband has never seen before. But the long-awaited meeting turned out to be bleak: the man is indifferent to both his wife and the child. He is bored and weighed down by this need to spend the day off in a different way than usual - in a tavern. The former village life, as well as his family, became distant and alien for him. They have nothing more to talk about.

Vladimir Makovsky. On the boulevard. Fragment

The well-known critic V. Stasov wrote about this picture: “The husband drank a little, his cheeks are reddened, he plays the harmonica, wringing his head, it seems that he has forgotten to think about his wife and child. And she, with a rather stupid and animal expression, sits, looking down at the ground, and, it seems, nothing, poor, does not understand and does not think. Such a deeply loyal type, Vladimir Makovsky, and anyone else in our country, has touched on this for the first time. " Despair and hopelessness froze on the face of the young peasant woman - she suddenly saw not the guy she was marrying, but a completely alien, hardened and indifferent person. All that he feels for her now is annoyance and shame for such a rendezvous on the city boulevard with his country wife.

Vladimir Makovsky. On the boulevard. Fragment

The flushed cheeks of the artisan, the famously wrinkled cap, the unbuttoned top button of the shirt - these details indicate that he is drunk and probably spends his weekends like that quite often. He is wearing a red shirt, and his wife is wearing a red skirt, which suggests that this day is a holiday or Sunday. In his hands is a harmonica, this very instrument, as well as the factory environment, Shalyapin reproached that the Russian people stopped singing their beautiful songs and switched to ditties.

Vladimir Makovsky. On the boulevard. Fragment

As in other works, Makovsky adheres to documentary accuracy of the image. Peredvizhnik A. Kiselev noted: "Such couples can be observed every day on the boulevards of Moscow adjacent to Truba, Sretenka and Myasnitskaya and overcrowded with workers and factory people, why our so-called decent public does not like to choose these boulevards as a place for their walks." Apparently, this scene takes place on Rozhdestvensky Boulevard near Trubnaya Square. And the church shown in the background is, obviously, the church of St. Sergius of Radonezh in Krapivniki.

Vladimir Makovsky. On the boulevard. Fragment

The artist achieves special lyricism and drama with the help of a dull autumn day, chosen as the background of a household scene - a gray sky, wet roofs of houses, fallen leaves set a special tone and mood, increasing the feeling of hopelessness. And casual passers-by emphasize the alienation of the main characters from the outside world and from each other - they sit side by side, but not together. Thus, in an ordinary, at first glance, everyday scene, a family drama is hidden, one of many that is so often played out on the streets of the city. The artist seemed to have spied on it by chance and made the audience witness to it.

Vladimir Makovsky. On the boulevard. Fragment

In 1960, during a historical and household expedition, employees of the Pereslavl Museum in the village of Daratniki met an old woman, Efrosinya Nemtsova, who announced that Makovsky's painting depicts her parents: “It depicts my father Afanasy Yegorovich and mother Agrafena Mikhailovna Filatov. Father, barely getting married, went to work in Moscow and got a job as a janitor on Myasnitskaya Street. His young wife, my mother, often came to see him. I was born there too. Father and mother were often painted by artists, because there was a painting school on Myasnitskaya Street."

Vladimir Makovsky. Self-portrait, 1893

The formation of Makovsky as a painter of everyday scenes was greatly influenced by the work of V. Perov. "The arrival of the governess at the merchant house": what is hidden in the details of Perov's painting.

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