Museums and Art

The painting "Zaharka", A. G. Venetsianov

The painting

Zakharka - Alexey Gavrilovich Venetsianov. 39.8 x 30.7 cm

A. Alexey Gavrilovich opened an art school in his village for talented peasant children. He even bought some from other landowners.

The sketch “Zaharka”, now stored in the Tretyakov Gallery, perfectly shows the strength of the artist’s talent and his expressive gift.

The model for the picture was a real boy, the son of serfs Fedul and Anna Stepanov. Venetsianov, apparently imbued with sympathy for Zakhar, will write it more than once.

Although the image of the boy is a small study, his strength is such that it makes him stop and examine these serious eyes beyond his years.

The image of Zakharka fills almost the entire plane of the picture. The artist chose this view for his model for a reason. The boy’s head is slightly turned towards the viewer, but he looks away. A hidden movement is hidden in his pose, and at the same time, peasant thoroughness and self-confidence are felt.

The picture is painted in dark colors, only the face of the child stands out with a bright spot. Colors unobtrusively pass one into another, without distracting us from the main character.

At first glance, Zakharka’s face is ugly: broad cheekbones, disheveled blond hair, a nose with potatoes, puffy lips, and thick eyebrows. But the child’s look is not at all childish, he is serious and intelligent, developed beyond his years. Such a little peasant.

It happens in the winter. The fur hat and mittens of the little boy are clearly large. Most likely - paternal or older brother. This means that the Zakhar family is poor and possibly large, like most ordinary families at that time.

It is evident that the boy already knows well what hard peasant labor is. In the village, children grow up early. In his hand he holds an ax. Maybe going to the woods for firewood or going to help his father. His face is concentrated, probably the artist tore him from an important matter.

Venetsianov’s talent is such that the image of Zakharka evokes sympathy and empathy among the viewer. It can be seen that the boy, although small for years, is kind, smart and a good helper to parents.

In his works, the painter repeatedly showed his confidence in the best qualities of the Russian people and the simple peasant. Venetsianov wrote serfs realistically, without embellishing their way of life. And at the same time, his “peasant” portraits evoke respect and confidence in the strength of mind and purity of the soul of these people.