Description of the picture:
Behind the love potion – Mikhail Vasilyevich Nesterov. 1888. Oil on canvas. 125 x 142
It is difficult to call Mikhail Nesterov a wanderer in the full sense of the word. However, the painter garnered interest in the everyday genre precisely from them, combining it with his internal understanding of “Russianness”.
In the picture presented, we see a curious scene – a young girl came to a strange old man for a love potion. The girl fell in love, but a man sweetheart does not reciprocate. That’s why the heroine came to the local sorcerer for help. It is noticeable how the girl was embarrassed, because she deliberately goes to cunning, deceit. The figure of the heroine is not written out in large, but how accurately the painter displays her emotions: sadness in the eyes of unrequited love, desperately drooping shoulders, self-doubt. Although the heroine is pretty, but the lowered mirror indicates that she is not happy with what she sees in the reflection.
Sad, suffering girls are a common leitmotif in the work of Nesterov. Perhaps the artist liked the sad beauty in itself, or maybe this is a reflection of the author’s mental pain due to the untimely departed first wife.
Another remarkable and expressive figure of the picture is the old man. His house is far from the rest of the village. The healer looks unusual: a thick gray beard, a yarmulka hat, a charm on his belt. He looks sympathetically at the uninvited guest, who is not even able to raise her eyes, not that to voice a request.
The dramatic scene is shaded by a luxurious rich landscape. Bright green vegetation is written out in detail. Here there is a well-trodden path (it can be seen that the elder often receives guests), and modest but charming yellow flowers, a picturesque straw eave of excess …
How will this story end? Will the medicine man give such a necessary potion, or there is no medicine for love and for love – does the girl wait in vain for help? We do not know this, but we fully empathize with this lyrical story, hoping that even without tricks and witchcraft the girl will have a happy ending."