Description of the picture:
Boyars wedding feast – Konstantin Egorovich Makovsky. 1883. Oil on canvas. 236×391 cm
Persian carpets, cages with amazing songbirds, Chinese vases from which ostriches and peacocks feathers protruded, ancient weapons, original African ritual masks, brocade pillows and ivory caskets – all this description is not a museum collection, but the home furnishings of Konstantin Makovsky.
Being a passionate collector of rare objects of various cultures and historical eras, the painter often used them to create the necessary interior in his works. Using the same method, a “lively picture,” this wonderful work was created that embodied the boyar wedding feast.
To truly recreate the surroundings, the author used his collection of antiques, and traveled to many collectors, and invited aristocrats as extras. The arrangement of the composition was preceded by musical evenings, dressing up, and after Makovsky “collected” his silent artists in detail and explained to everyone what they should portray. A truly innovative method of the time!
This work was created specifically for exhibiting in Europe. Makovsky sought recognition abroad, and it was no coincidence that the plot was chosen – Europeans were very interested in original Russian history at that time, so the work, which so reliably and vividly describes the scene from the life of the 17th century, was well received. However, the success was only exacerbated by the split between Makovsky and many of his friends, artists, especially with the Wanderers, who saw, above all, the social role of art and believed that it was not worth the Russian artist to seek fame from a foreign audience.
First of all, the magnificent outfits of the boyars are noteworthy – rich caftans embroidered with patterns, high women’s hats, heavy folds of men’s clothes. The walls are painted, cups are on the tables, and the servants are already in a hurry with dishes – everything here is saturated with the Russian spirit with an incredibly distinctive culture.
Among all, you do not immediately notice the young, for their personalities are not so large-scale in comparison with the present event – two boyar clans unite. A toast was uttered, and to the cries of “Bitterly!” The young man tries to kiss the girl, and she shyly looks away, embarrassed and timid. An experienced matchmaker on the left hand of a young man, as it were, pushes an indecisive newly-made spouse. Heroes look at this scene differently – the girl on marriageable age looks at her friend with envy, but the nanny looks sad, because she knows perfectly well the difficult life of a married woman.
Ironically, one of Makovsky’s most Russian works, having changed several owners, today belongs to the Washington Museum."