“The Peasant Family” (“The Holy Family”), Pavel Nikolaevich Filonov – overview of the painting

“The Peasant Family” (“The Holy Family”), Pavel Nikolaevich Filonov – overview of the painting
“The Peasant Family” (“The Holy Family”), Pavel Nikolaevich Filonov - overview of the painting - 1

  • Author: Pavel Nikolaevich Filonov
  • Museum: Russian Museum
  • Year: 1914

Overview of the painting :

Peasant family (Holy family) – Pavel Nikolaevich Filonov. Oil on canvas. 159 x 128 cm
   The painting “The Peasant Family” (“The Holy Family”) was written by P. N. Filonov in 1914. This canvas has entered the cycle of work “Introduction to World Color”.

   In 1905-1907, the artist made a pilgrimage trip to the Holy Land. From Constantinople on the ship, Filonov got to Old Afon, then to Jaffa and Jerusalem. The journey had a great influence on the understanding of biblical stories by the master. For the artist, the text of the Gospel takes on a new living meaning.

   Filonov had a deep knowledge of icon painting. On his way to Jerusalem, he made copies of icons for monks and simple pilgrims. Renouncing all his life from the material world, involuntarily holding an eternal fast, Filonov more and more ascended to God with his soul.

   In this picture, the author displays his vision of the gospel. Mary and Joseph are portrayed as ordinary peasants. Their appearance is absolutely earthly, not sublime. A man raises his hands to heaven, expressing humility and gratitude to God’s will. The mother’s face is clearly worried about the fate of the child sent to her.

   The composition is complemented by animals: horse, dog, rooster and chicken. Beasts symbolize the guides and guardians of the soul that came to earth. The baby’s pose is atypical: the hands are spread like wings, the soulful look is directly addressed to the audience and is the semantic center of work. Like an icon, an artist frames a family portrait with the colors of a paradise garden.

   A bright palette gives the picture a joyful mood. Grace descended on the sinful earth! The Savior was born! The baby’s face is divinely glowing. Shining colors resemble paintings by Venetian artists.

   Filonov embodies in the picture his understanding of spiritual harmony and ancient wisdom, connecting the real temporary world and infinity.