Throughout life

Nikolay Aleksandrovich Yaroshenko • Painting, 1888, 212×106 cm
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8.5 × 17.3 cm • 300 dpi
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About the artwork
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Genre scene
Style of art: Realism
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1888
Size: 212×106 cm
Artwork in selections: 21 selections
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Description of the artwork «Throughout life»

"All Life" is the most famous painting by Nikolai Yaroshenko. It was painted in 1888 and exhibited at the 16th Itinerants. It was in the spotlight and generated not only rave reviews but also a barrage of criticism.

The plot of the painting is simple - a few men are gathered near the window of a prisoner's carriage and are feeding pigeons with bread. The prisoners are depicted not only by the bars on the window, but also by the fact that the heads of the men are half shaved - in Russia, since the times of Peter the Great, they marked the exiles and convicts, making it difficult for them to escape.

The man's beard on the left is a peasant, the man in the lower right corner looks like a craftsman, and between them there is a soldier in a uniform cap. Thus, the author represented all classes.
In the background, Yaroshenko depicts a prisoner looking out of the window - a reference to his own painting "Prisoner." (1878), in which the public saw the hero as "political."

The canvas has an unusual format - its height (2.12 m) is twice the width, so that a fragment of the car painted almost life-size. In addition, the exhibition Peredvizhniki picture was placed on the end wall of the long hall and quite low. All this made the image incredibly realistic.
But the main thing, of course, is not in the technical features of the work, but that Yaroshenko in the images of prisoners there is nothing repulsive. Even in captivity, they have retained their humanity, there is no cruelty, rudeness in their faces, so the viewer unwittingly wonders: really, these people - the villains? Were they rightly condemned?

Critics have previously reproached Nikolai Yaroshenko for idealizing criminals, but in this case he was accused of sacrilege, because the artist portrayed the prisoners as they had always painted the holy family. The woman with the baby resembles the Virgin Mary with baby Jesus, who holds out her hand to the audience in a gesture of blessing (one of the newspaper articles about the exhibition was titled "Madonna behind bars"). The men bent over are St. Joseph and the apostles. The doves are a symbol of the Holy Spirit.

Yaroshenko was also accused of bias and even jokingly called the painting "A tendency everywhere".

The picture was painted under the influence of Tolstoy's ideas and, in particular, under the impression of Leo Tolstoy's story "What are people alive? Initially Nikolai Yaroshenko wanted to call the canvas "Where there is love, there is God".
Tolstoy himself said about the picture: "How much it speaks to the heart."

Author: Martha Berg

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