“Reading the situation on February 19, 1861,” Meat-eaters – overview of the painting

“Reading the situation on February 19, 1861,” Meat-eaters – overview of the painting
“Reading the situation on February 19, 1861,” Meat-eaters - overview of the painting - 1

  • Author: Grigory Grigoryevich Mäsoedov
  • Museum: Tretyakov Gallery
  • Year: 1873

Overview of the painting :

Reading the situation on February 19, 1861 – Grigory Grigoryevich Myasoedov. Oil on canvas. 138.2 x 209 cm

   The outstanding Russian artist Myasoedov Grigory Grigoryevich is known not only as a painter, but also as the founder, leader and participant of the society of artists of traveling exhibitions. Their work was fueled by folk ideas, they carried culture to the masses, organizing art exhibitions.

   The meat-eaters, born in the family of the poor nobleman of the Tula province, understood the hard work of the common people, the disenfranchised and humiliating position of the peasants. The works of Myasoedov in the period of the 1870s can be described as acutely social, critically directed.

   So, his work, created in 1873 – “Reading the Manifesto on February 19, 1861” – can be safely attributed to the direction of critical realism.

   Grigory Grigoryevich, possessing a sharp temperament, an ironic mindset, a subtle observation of the artist and an active civic position, could not help but respond with creativity to such a significant event for Russia as the abolition of hated serfdom.

   The paintings depict peasants who were about to listen to the decree of Emperor Alexander II on land reform. The men gathered in a barn for drying hay, it is dark, but sunlight penetrates from above, which illuminates the group and the boy reading the manifest. Leaning forward, carefully and with hope, a young guy in a white shirt listens. On the faces of older men and more wisely there is a certain distrust, doubt. The pose of the peasant standing on the left with his hands folded on his stomach causes a feeling of fatigue and hopelessness.

   The reform of 1861 and now still causes controversy with its ambiguity, and how for ordinary people of the 19th century to understand whether they will be a life relief or a decree only for wealthy landowners?

   In this picture, the talent of the Meat-eater of the painter is fully manifested – how real the poses are, how rich the emotions on the faces of men are, how colorful every character is, how any detail is written out – from the bast shoes to the straw.