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“At the tea table”, Konstantin Korovin – description of the painting

Description of the picture:

At the tea table – Konstantin Korovin. 1888. Oil on canvas on cardboard. 48.5 x 60.5 cm.
At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, a new direction in art arose, which, with the light hand of critics and journalists, was called “impressionism”. This name comes from the French word “impression”. Impressionists were called artists who contrasted the smoothness of the work of artists and academics with their own artistic language, unusual for that time. Then the same artistic trends appeared in literature and music.

Konstantin Korovin is recognized as one of the founders of impressionism in Russia. Researchers believe that true adherence to this style begins to manifest itself in the cycle of the Zhukovsky works of the master. The summer of 1888, the painter spent at the cottage of his friend in the village of Zhukovka. The purpose of visiting this remote place was not only relaxation and pleasant communication. Korovin sought to find a new approach for himself in the image of air and light on the canvases. He was close to the style of Claude Monet, who carried people to the background, catching moments of the beauty of nature.

The owner of the estate was a famous artist V.D. Polenov. His paintings are characterized by the intimate world of an old Russian estate and national landscapes. He was a hospitable and pleasant person. His house was always full of guests: friends, colleagues, relatives, students, neighbors. They all gathered at a large table, had small talk, joked, played and drank tea.

The key work of this period was the Canvas at the Tea Table. All the characters in the canvas are quite famous personalities. Elena Polenova is the sister of the estate owner, a well-known graphic artist and illustrator of children’s books. She sits with her back to us in a modest summer hat. Opposite Natalia Polenova. And to the right is the young artist Maria Yakunchikova. Particular attention is drawn to a family friend sitting on the right, a young officer Vyacheslav Ziberov.

The main sign of the impressionist orientation of the canvas in the effect of a random frame. As if this is not a picture, which spent a lot of time and energy of the artist, but a photograph or a shot of a film strip. The author was sitting at the same table with the heroes, and stood in order to capture the moment. Carelessly pushed his chair, which indicates the temporality of what is happening. The cutlery awaits the master: a glass in the cup holder, a plate and a spoon. Realism and dynamism are the main trends in the image.

At first glance, it seems that each hero is busy with his own business, but this is not so. The young girl Maria confusedly talks with Vyacheslav, stirring the tea a little nervously. The junker himself looks boldly, decisively and a little appreciatively. He has a military bearing. He does not specifically take off his cap at the table to emphasize his officer status. We cannot see Elena’s faces, but her posture is very tense. This is evident in her slightly hunched back. Natalia is busy sewing and seems to be detached from what is happening. But upon careful examination, you can see that she also listens to the conversation of young people.

The genre of the canvas is difficult to determine. This is a group portrait with elements of landscape, still life, genre scene and everyday motifs."

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