Fresh Cavalier (Morning of the official who received the first cross)

Pavel Andreevich Fedotov • Painting, 1846, 48.2×42.5 cm
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1770 × 2048 px • JPEG
35.3 × 40 cm • 127 dpi
30.0 × 34.7 cm • 150 dpi
15.0 × 17.3 cm • 300 dpi
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About the artwork
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Genre scene
Style of art: Biedermeier, Realism
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1846
Size: 48.2×42.5 cm
Artwork in selections: 54 selections
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Description of the artwork «Fresh Cavalier (Morning of the official who received the first cross)»

"Fresh Chevalier" - the picture, after which Pavel Fedotov woke up famous. More recently, lush historical compositions were in fashion, and Karl Brullov snobbishly convinced Fedotov that he lacked knowledge and academic skills to dare to be an artist. But by the mid-1840s, a powerful trend had formed in Russian culture, not for exaltation, but for criticism of life. In literature, he was picked up by Gogol, in painting - by Fedotov. In a sense, “Fresh Cavalier” is a cousin of Gogol Khlestakov. But first things first.

Why does the hero of the picture stand in the pose of an ancient orator? What does the cook give him? Why is there such a monstrous mess around? And who is the gentleman?

The meaning of the plot of "Fresh Chevalier" in the first minutes eludes us. This is not happening because Fedotov failed to properly implement his own plan - quite the opposite. The problem is that 170 years have passed and many everyday realities are gone. And without them, the “Fresh Cavalier” remains dark and incomprehensible.

It will become clearer if we recall that the alternative name of the painting is “Morning of the official who received the first cross”. So, we have a representative of the bureaucratic tribe in the morning home ugliness. His robe looks like a Roman toga, and papilotki in his hair - a laurel wreath. Antique references and Caesarean majesty poses are curious and pitiful in the cramped and impressive mud of the setting.

Our hero recently woke up. And obviously, his night was not easy. Jugs, bottles lying around, scraps and fish tails on the floor clearly indicate the recent binge. Guitar hints: it was fun. The cook holds out her boots - would you dress, sir, sir. The rumpled gentleman instead pokes a finger at the fresh "Cavalier" - the order received the day before, a good reason to get drunk.

Progressive critics of the 19th century clung to this Fedotov character, seeing in it an exaggerated embodiment of all the shortcomings of bureaucratic feudal Russia. It came almost dodemonizatsii. Vladimir Stasov, the most famous critic and inspirer of the Wanderers, eloquently condemned malice, swagger, heartlessness and the "idolization of the order": “... Before you is a monstrous, stiff nature, a corrupt bribe-taker, a soulless slave of his superior, who no longer thinks about anything, except that he will give him money and a cross in his buttonhole. He is fierce and ruthless, he will drown anyone and what he wants, and not a single fold on his face from rhinocers' (from French rhinocéros-rhino) skins will not tremble ”.

In the meantime, there is no cruel reproof in the “Fresh Cavalry”. Fedotov's look is sarcastic - but nothing more. We see that our official’s closet is cramped, furnished with variegated furniture and, on the whole, rather miserable, and boots and a bathrobe are full of holes. The breeder is somehow too small for such large-scale invectives, and even with the rhinoceros ferocity, Stasov got excited. Some supporters of critical realism in the anti-serfdom ignorance tried to prove that the hero Fedotov was a villain. He de humiliates the weak - his cook (it is believed that there is a hint in the picture of their sexual connection, everyday life for his age). However, the pretty serf girl in the picture is clearly in a better position. Her eloquent look expresses a mixture of contempt and condescension to an unprofitable gentleman, whose pompous pose does not demonstrate superiority, but merely indicates his professional deformation: where can one find an official in Russia who would not suffer from manic vanity? All this is served more with mild humor than with derogatory sarcasm. Gogol in “The Inspector General” was, perhaps, more radical in denunciations than the artist Fedotov.

It is funny that in reality, bureaucratic bragging turned out to be more dangerous than in the picture. For example, one of the censors quite seriously demanded that Fedotov overstep the order (a high state award!) In order not to undermine the sacred foundations of power.

Author: Anna Yesterday