Northern idyll

Konstantin Korovin • Painting, 1886, 115×155 cm
$54.00
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1882 × 1400 px • JPEG
47.6 × 35.3 cm • 100 dpi
31.9 × 23.7 cm • 150 dpi
15.9 × 11.9 cm • 300 dpi
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About the artwork
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Genre scene
Style of art: Impressionism
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1886
Size: 115×155 cm
Artwork in selections: 45 selections
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Description of the artwork «Northern idyll»

The artist created the Northern Idyll without seeing the North. Only eight years later, Savva Mamontov would send Konstantin Korovin and Valentin Serov on a trip to the northern lands, by the way, Korovin brought very interesting works (1, 2) from there). But by the time of painting the Northern Idyll, Korovin was already familiar with Mamontov thanks to his teacher Vasily Polenov, and he even actively worked as an artist-decorator for his Private Opera. The impetus for painting this picture was the Snow Maiden play staged at the Private Opera in the magnificent scenery by Viktor Vasnetsov.

Korovin finished his studies at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture that year. The activities of the Itinerants was at their peak, society was rather cool to the landscape. The artist recalled that the genre painters at the School “were joyless young men. Subjects, ideas, teachings weighed down their heads. They did not see the wonderful life in their youth. They wanted to correct, direct, affect everything.” The Northern Idyll contradicted this approach even with its name, let alone the image! Joy, pure pleasure, colour play, admiring beauty — there is no space left for reproofs or teachings...

We can see a typical white night, a spiky pale moon shines through the hazy sky. Korovin gracefully played on folk motifs (in the Abramtsevo circle of Savva Mamontov, they had a weakness for them): a shepherd with a pipe, wreaths, Russian women’s outfits, vast expanses. The contrast of red and green against the multicoloured background creates a very interesting colour palette of the picture. The artist’s special skill is that he chose colours that were bright and muted at the same time, due to which the image did not hurt the eyes, but acquired a special musicality and melody. It seems that if you listen, you will hear the sounds of the pipe.

In this picture, Korovin combined easel and decorative painting. The figures are painted flat, and the landscape is three-dimensional. The standing girls are perceived as a single whole, while the seated one “softens” the transition to the lying shepherd. Because of its decorativeness, the use of local colour planes and the subject, the Northern Idyll is called one of the forerunners of Art Nouveau in Russian painting. Indeed, it comes close enough to the style of this art movement.

Written by Aliona Esaulova
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