Date - Vladimir Egorovich Makovsky. 40 x 31.5 cm
Probably the most penetrating work on a social theme by Vladimir Makovsky is the painting “Date”, which the author finished writing in 1883. It clearly reads the influence of the artistic mobile association, which put at the forefront the problems of contemporary society.
The heroes of the picture are the poorest representatives of the Russian people, mother and son. The young man, due to lack of funds, was given to the city as an apprentice, and this is a difficult work for many hours and little paid. His mother came to visit him, bringing only a loaf of bread from the hotel.
The boy is dressed in a dirty dark apron, from under which a motley shirt with rolled up sleeves is visible. There is nothing at all on his feet - a young man stands barefoot on an earthen floor. The face of the hero is amazing: the viewer does not immediately recognize the boy in him, rather, it is the face of a man. The features were hardened, his eyes focused on food, and the expression was not childishly serious.
A mother wrapped in a scarf is shown by Makovsky in profile. She looks thoughtfully into the void, reflecting on the uneasy share of her son. How her mother’s heart hurts and groans ... A coarse sheepskin coat covers her shoulders, and a simple woolen skirt tells us that she came from the village, and, most likely, on foot. Winter is in the yard, so its path was not an easy one.
Their meeting is devoid of hugs, conversations and generally no communication - the tormented heroes are tired of hard work and worries. The scenery, against the background of which their joyless date unfolds, only emphasize extreme poverty. Their meeting takes place in some kind of gloomy room with blackened wooden walls, where from household items we can notice only a clay jug standing on a barrel. It seems that we can hear the ringing silence hanging in this cramped room.
Dark color prevails in the picture, “diluted” only with bright contrasting spots - the clothes and faces of the heroes. Makovsky deliberately highlighted the faces of his mother and son with the help of a well-known technique - natural sunlight falls on them from a small window, which the painter deliberately does not include in the composition.
As for compositional construction, here Makovsky remains true to himself - he brings the heroes of his plot as close as possible to the audience, so that we can see their faces and dead eyes. This achieves a huge emotional effect.
A thin boy with an adult face not older than 13 years old, unusually hungry, barefoot, dressed in poor untidy clothes, and his mother, who feeds her son on bread, is a plot that depicts the deepest life tragedy of typical representatives of the poor population of Russia. And from work it breathes helplessness and hopelessness.
The picture “Date” by the strength of the emotional impact can only be compared with the “Little organ grinders” created 15 years before the described work.
Makovsky was never limited to displaying social problems, for which he was condemned by other wanderers, but if he nevertheless addressed this problem, he did it with his characteristic responsibility and sincerity, which is why the artist’s social works still resonate in our hearts.