“Steppe. Niva ”, Arkhip Ivanovich Kuindzhi – description of the painting

Description of the picture:

Steppe. Niva – Arkhip Ivanovich Kuindzhi. 1875. Oil on canvas. 69 x 109 cm
The wide, flat steppe literally comes from the summer heat – as if from the picture it is as if thick, dry and prickly, dusty air is felt. A simple picture of bucolic life inspires a sense of calm and tranquility. A high sky fills the canvas with air, and wide golden fields – a feeling of rich natural gifts that crowned the hard work of the villagers.

The canvas depicts vast fields of wheat that have already matured and produced heavy, poured spikelets. Between the two endless fields there is a wide road that is not completely visible to us – it goes into the distance at an angle from the viewer. A woman in typical rural clothing, characteristic of that time period, walks along it. She is wearing a clean white shirt with a loose cut and a dark skirt-plain. On one hand, she was draped in some kind of dark outerwear. Obviously, because of the heat, the woman took it off and now carries it with her. She is barefoot, and in her second hand she has a red object. The analogy suggests itself that she carries red cowhide boots removed from her feet – a piece of shoes that is very characteristic of those days. But to consider exactly what it is, of course, is impossible, so here each viewer can imagine what the fantasy will tell him.

On both sides of the peasant woman, splendid fields of ripe wheat are sprouting. The ears are thick, seem to be a solid array of cast gold, going into the distance, to the horizon. Only in the foreground can you see the loose structure of straw in a beautiful warm, golden hue.

Fields go straight into the sky, forming a light bluish haze at the junction, smoothly turning into clouds in a high sky. On the horizon, one can very vaguely discern the silhouette of a windmill and very distant buildings on the slope. The sky above the steppe is pale, covered with a scattering of lightest cirrus clouds. They cover almost the entire space of the sky, leaving only small fragments of light diaper blue. A rather large white bird soars its wings spread wide in the sky. In the Ukrainian steppes, this is most likely a stork – a symbol of domestic well-being, a prosperous and hospitable house. Together, this creates an atmosphere of serene peace and an unusual, ringing silence.

In the picture, everything speaks of prosperity and fertility – fat fields, vast spaces. But the sky above all this carries a hidden alarm – it can rain, easily able to destroy the many months of hard work of the peasants, leaving them without the expected harvest."

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