Ship grove

Ivan Shishkin • Painting, 1898, 165×252 cm
About the artwork
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Landscape
Style of art: Realism
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1898
Size: 165×252 cm
Artwork in selections: 67 selections

Description of the artwork «Ship grove»

The Ship Grove painting is considered the artistic will of Ivan Shishkin. He painted it in the year of his death, and this is the last serious work by the artist. Working on this picture, Shishkin used plein-air sketches and studies created in his native Yelabuga (see one of them).

We can see Shishkin’s favourite subject, a mighty, eternal forest. Carvel pines are grandiose trees reaching 40 meters in height. Their age is about a hundred years old, their elastic, light and durable wood is used for the masts of ships. It was these powerful, persistent trees that Shishkin depicted in his “will”. The colour is calm and restrained, which is traditional for the artist.

The tops of the trees are “cut off”, which gives the impression of their infinite height. At least they didn’t fit on the canvas! Each twig and blade of grass is painted with Shishkin’s inherent thoroughness, scales are visible on the bark of the trees. It was said with admiration about his landscapes that they are good enough to study the plants structure from them; however, he was often blamed for this.

The painting was shown at the 26th travelling exhibition and was well received. At the same time, one cannot but understand that the epoch of the Itinerants saw its end, the turn of the bright colours of Russian plein air painters, the mysterious images of the Symbolists came, colour came to the fore, the flickering of the light-air environment; a new painting came — the light, bright one. The landscape became a very popular genre, but Shishkin’s landscapes stood apart. They were different from all those who came next, first of all, because of their epic, monumentality, grandeur. The artist didn’t “catch the moment”, he was the one to capture eternity. Ignoring bold experiments with light and colour of his contemporaries, Shishkin masterly played with chiaroscuro, and here is the result — the sunlight pours from his picture, sun glares play on tree trunks, the sunlit glade in the foreground attracts, and the shadow of the impenetrable forest, thickening in the depths of the picture, bewitches and promises coolness.

Written by Aliona Grosheva