The painting shows the family of Vasily Polenov
, the teacher of Konstantin Korovin at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, at the tea table. Polenov often invited his favourite students (Korovin was undoubtedly one of them) to his dacha, in the village of Zhukovka.
This picture brings to mind the numerous Impressionist breakfasts (1
). In his tea drinking, Korovin uses a favourite technique of the Impressionist artists, the random frame effect. Just look at such detail as the chair pulled back in the foreground on the right. It seems that the person sitting on it just got up and, perhaps, reached for a brush? Due to the lack of a staged composition, the viewer is sure that one is observing an ordinary scene of a summer cottage. However, this picture can be hardly attributed to impressionism. Because you cannot find any lightness, spontaneity, fleetingness here, inherent in the art movement. On the contrary, both the composition and the colour are carefully constructed.
How can we classify this painting? A landscape? A still life? An everyday painting? A group portrait? The latter is perhaps the most exact one. Vasily Polenov’s wife Natalya is busy with sewing. Her daughter Elena sits opposite her mother, we can see her from the back. Maria Yakunchikova, Natalya’s sister, is talking enthusiastically with a naval officer on the opposite edge of the table. The cross composition creates two lines of relaxation and tension with an interesting colour contrast. The artist’s wife and daughter are painted in warm ochre tones, while they are depicted in relaxed poses, they seem to chill out. The line of Maria Yakunchikova and the officer, on the contrary, is painted in cold tones of blue and white, but their postures indicate a passionate interest in the conversation and, possibly, passion to each other. This colouristic opposition is also duplicated in the still life: the copper of the samovar shining in the sun and the blue and white tea set done in cool colours. The landscape is filled with the same colour contrast: green and ochre tones replace and complement each other.
In the same year, 1888, Korovin presented the painting at the 8th exhibition of the Society of Art Lovers, and it was a great success.Written by Aliona Grosheva