Peasant woman with a scythe and a rake (Pelageya) - Alexey Gavrilovich Venetsianov. 22.5 x 17.5 cm
In 1819, Venetsianov decided to completely devote his life to painting and moved from Petersburg to his small village Safonkovo near Tver. There he observes the life of peasants, draws from nature their images and various everyday scenes. Venetsianov was one of the first Russian painters who began to depict serfs, not idealizing, but showing their strength of mind and personality.
The described picture refers to the early works of the artist. This is a sketch written from nature. It depicts a girl with a scythe on her shoulder, leaning on an inverted rake. Apparently, the artist saw Pelageya in the field and could not pass by.
The young woman has a serious, strict face. She can not be called beauty, but she is pretty pretty. Venetsianov tried not to embellish his models.
Her face was weathered and reddened from the sun, her hands strained and tanned. The girl knows what hard peasant work is, but bears her burden with dignity. She is the personification of a Russian woman, hardworking and proud. She is beautiful not externally, but internally.
The girl has simple clothes: a white shirt, a red sundress, a green scarf - nothing more that would interfere with work.
Venetsianov painted Pelagia against the background of a typical Russian landscape. The main part of the picture is occupied by the sky and greenery. The background is shown schematically so as not to distract attention from the image of the girl. The artist depicted her facing the viewer, waist-high. Agricultural tools in her hands personify peasant labor, communication with the land. She holds a heavy braid easily and habitually. From an early age, peasants got acquainted with work in the field. She made up their whole life.
The picture seems bright, Venetsianov uses bright colors: green, red, yellow, white. This conveys the clarity and warmth of a sultry summer day. Immediately it appears an endless field, the ringing of insects, the hot sun.
The portrait of Pelageya (only the girl’s name has come down to us, her fate is unknown) is one of a series of female images left by Venetsianov. The artist celebrates the simple female beauty. Serf peasant women appear before us as individuals, each with its own character and individuality. At the same time, they embody the natural principle, due to their proximity to the earth and natural simplicity. Their lives are simple, but each of them contains the fate of the simple Russian people.
Venetsianov worked in the style of realism. His manner of depicting peasants aroused both the delight and rejection of his contemporaries. The painting of peasant life was considered a "low" genre, in contrast to the "high" preached by academism. However, the artist managed, thanks to his talent, to raise simple everyday themes to a height not subject to time. And now his images of peasants are capable of evoking emotions in the modern viewer.
The painting was in the collection of the first public museum, organized by the diplomat and public figure P.P. Svinyin. Now the work is exhibited at the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg.