The students (the writer A. K. diterihs)

Nikolay Aleksandrovich Yaroshenko • Painting, 1883
About the artwork
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Portrait
Style of art: Realism
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1883
Artwork in collection: The Wanderers Irina Olikh
Artwork in selections: 9 selections

Description of the artwork «The students (the writer A. K. diterihs)»

Nikolai Yaroshenko painted Cursista in 1883. To understand why the public and critics heatedly discussed the painting, it is necessary to remember that the first Higher Women's Courses in Russia opened only in 1869, but all the time they were under the threat of a ban.
Revolutionary protests, which traditionally involved young people and, above all, students, led to the closure of many of the women's courses that had by then appeared in 1886. In late 19th-century Russian society as a whole, a girl who had decided to receive a higher education was rejected by many. The coursewoman was a claim to something greater than the role of mother and wife. It is a rebellion.

That is why the painting "Cursista", presented at the XI travelling exhibition, aroused polar emotions. Some admired the portrayal of the new heroine of the era, while others discerned in her the most terrible features of "emancipation.

"Look at her, - Peter Zitovich wrote, professor at Novorossiysk University: - a man's hat, a man's cloak, dirty skirts, ragged dress, bronze or greenish complexion, chin forward, in cloudy eyes everything: aimlessness, weariness, anger, hatred, some deep night with a glow of swamp fire - what is it? On the outside, some kind of hermaphrodite, on the gut a genuine daughter of Cain. She had her hair cut off, and not in vain: her mother had so marked her Gapoks and Palashek "for sin"... Now she is alone, with a grave coldness in her soul, with oppressive anger and longing in her heart. No one to pity her, no one to pray for her - all abandoned. Well, maybe it is better: when she dies of childbirth or typhoid, there will be no scandal at the funeral.

Some critics saw in "Kursistka" an image of a "ragged, antipathic girl with bulging eyes", "a sketch of a girl running at full speed, ... judging by her type, hurrying to a known trade", "an ugly and untidy young lady and nothing more". That the picture attracted the public, they explained only by its "topical" and "fashionable" title.
But the writer Gleb Uspensky admired the "serious straight look of brown eyes" and emphasized the main thing in this work - "purely feminine, girlish features, imbued in the picture, if I may say so, the presence of youthful, bright thought. And summed it up: "It was this most elegant, not invented, and yet the most real fusion of maiden and youthful features in one face, in one figure, illuminated not by female or male, but by "human" thought, at once lit up and understood both cap, and plaid, and book, and turned into a new, born, unprecedented and bright human image" (from an essay by Gleb Uspensky "About one picture").

Undoubtedly, the artist himself related to his heroine with sympathy. Nikolai Yaroshenko himself was married to Bestuzhev's Maria Nevrotina, and he painted "Kursistka" from Anna Diterikhs, who at that time was also a student at the Bestuzhev women's courses. Many art historians believe that Kursistka is a collective image and that the girl depicted resembles Dieterichs only in general terms.

There are two versions of the painting - the second was written by the author for the buyer. The difference between them is insignificant. One painting is in the Kiev Art Gallery, the other - in the Kaluga Museum of Fine Arts.

We write in detail about the fate of the heroine HERE.