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Widow (with lilac wallpaper)

Painting, 1852, 63.4×48.3 cm

Description of the artwork «Widow (with lilac wallpaper)»

Above "The widow"several variants of which are known (see also 1, 2), the artist worked shortly before he plunged into the darkness of mental illness. She had never been given to Fedotov, and at times drove him to despair. It is possible that the “sticking” on this story even accelerated the manifestation of Fedotov's madness.

Nothing remained of the typical Fedotov in the "Widow": neither ridicule, nor caricature, nor sarcasm - all that made him famous. Apparently accusation "Fresh Chevalier", "Fashionable wife", "Breakfast of the aristocrat" and sets of graphic cartoons began to cause the conscientious Fedotov spiritual discomfort. He was reproached that "Traded brush on the rod and pointer". He began to bite the question: who am I to make fun of these unfortunates? Did not even want to be "Delicate satirist". Right attitude to the one whom you depict, he now saw not condemnation, but sympathy. Of course, this was a delusion, a betrayal of his artistic gut. But life began to play along meanly: one of the Fedotov sisters was just widowed. The brother who had always come to her aid without pain could not watch her homelessness.

The plot of "Widow" is simple. The heroine was unmolested, being at demolitions. She is standing in a darkened room full of items for sale. Poverty has joined widowhood. “Lead abominations of life” common for critical realism. It's simple. But it was precisely this simplicity that Fedotov did not give.

"It will be easy when you write once with a hundred" - the only known aphorism of the artist refers in time to the "Widow".

Fedotov oppressed the technical issues. The most brutal installation, which he developed for himself and which later, beyond his knowledge, formed the basis of Russian realistic art, was this: the artist should not “write from his head”, should not invent anything, work only from nature. My sister stayed in Moscow and could not pose. How not to lie in the image of a woman's face? There is a story that, having arrived to his friend, Fedotov played for a long time with his three frisky young sons and, peering into their faces, explained: “This is where the nature of the woman fits with the nature of children: look at this delicate skin, translucent veins”. He went home pacified, repeated: “Now for my“ widow ”I have a forehead and temples. It lacks only loving eyes ".

But peace again gave way to torment. How, for example, to accurately write two sources of illumination - light from a window and from a candle ?! Once at the peak of tension in a dream, he appeared Bryullov, the most "technical" Russian artist of the 1st half of the XIX century. At first, he did not believe in Fedotov, discouraged him from leaving the military for artists. But then he admitted that he was mistaken, and when Fedotov was hounded, he was always on his side. "Today talked with Bryullov"- Fedotov confidentially told his friend. He was numb: 1852 was the year, Bryullov died very recently. Fedotov quickly stopped, began to make excuses: “We, artists, sometimes reach the point where it’s more than possible to talk with those who have become obsolete.”.

But the main secret of the “Widow”, which dragged Fedotov into madness and the grave, is that this is, in fact, a self-portrait.

Behind the widow, next to the image of the Savior, in a gilded frame is a portrait of the late husband. Where to look for nature? Yes in the mirror! In this portrait, the former military man Pavel Fedotov in a hussar uniform depicted himself. Not entirely successful, although not without originality, a joke - a self-portrait in the role of a dead man. A terrible omen. Reminds of theatrical superstition not go to the stage in a coffin. The end of the artist's life (paroxysmal schizophrenia with acute sensual delirium, pacifying cold water douche, pleurisy, a lonely death in the house of grief at 37 years old) involuntarily leads to see mysticism in that very Fedotov, whom he named the ancestor of Russian realism.

Author: Anna Yesterday
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Genre scene

Style of art: Realism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1852

Size: 63.4×48.3 cm

Artwork in selections: 24 selections