“A peasant woman with a scythe and rake (Pelage)”, Venetianov – overview of the painting

“A peasant woman with a scythe and rake (Pelage)”, Venetianov – overview of the painting
“A peasant woman with a scythe and rake (Pelage)”, Venetianov - overview of the painting - 1

  • Posted by Alexey Gavrilovich Venetsyanov
  • Museum: Russian Museum
  • Year: 1824

Overview of the painting :

Peasant with scythe and rake (Pelagea) – Alexey Gavrilovich Venetianov. Wood, butter. 22.5 x 17.5 cm

   In 1819, Venetianov decided to devote his life to painting completely and moved from St. Petersburg to his small village of Safonkovo near Tvera. There he observes the life of the peasants, draws from nature their images and various everyday scenes. Venetianov was one of the first Russian painters to portray serfs without idealizing, but showing their strength of mind and individuality.

   The described picture refers to the artist’s early works. This is an etude written from nature. It depicts a girl with a scythe on her shoulder, leaning on inverted rake. Apparently, the artist saw Pelagia in field work and could not pass by.

   A young woman has a serious, strict face. She can not be called a beauty, but she is pretty pretty sweet. Venetianov tried not to embellish his models.

   Her face was circled and blushed from the sun, her hands were 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 superfluous that would interfere with work.

   Venetianov painted Pelagia against the background of a typical Russian landscape. The main part of the picture is occupied by the sky and greens. The background is shown schematically so as not to distract attention from the image of the girl. The artist portrayed her face to the audience, waist-deep. Agricultural implements in her hands represent peasant labor, a connection with the earth. She holds a heavy braid easily and habitually. Peasants from an early age got acquainted with work in the field. She has been making their whole life.

   The picture seems bright, Venetian uses bright colors: green, red, yellow, white. This conveys the clarity and warmth of a sultry summer day. Immediately appears endlessly field, the ringing of insects, the hot sun.

   The portrait of Pelagey (we only got the name of the girl, her fate is unknown) is one of a series of female images left by Venetian. The artist sings simple female beauty. The godmothers of peasants appear before us as individuals, each with its own character and personality. At the same time, they personify a natural beginning, due to proximity to the earth and natural simplicity. Their lives are unpretentious, but each of them contains the fate of a simple Russian people.

   Venetianov worked in the style of realism. His manner of depicting the peasants caused both delight and rejection of contemporaries. The painting of peasant life was considered a “low” genre, in contrast to the “high” preached by academicism. However, the artist succeeded, thanks to his talent, to raise simple mundane themes to a height beyond the control of time. And now his images of peasants are able to evoke emotions in a modern audience.

   The painting was in the collection of the first public museum organized by diplomat and public figure P. P. Piggy. Now the work is exhibited at the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg.