House of cards

Zinaida Serebriakova • Painting, 1919, 65×75.5 cm
About the artwork
This artwork was added since it is referred to in the materials below
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Genre scene
Style of art: Art Nouveau
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1919
Size: 65×75.5 cm
Artwork in collection: Serebryakova Anna Denisenko
Artwork in selections: 45 selections

Description of the artwork «House of cards»

In a house of cards, collapsing from any poke and a gust of wind turned a happy, comfortable life of a family portrait "Breakfast". Unlike the latter, in all its glory depicting happiness and grace, "House of cards" Zinaida Serebryakova wrote in the most difficult time of his life. In 1919, burned the estate to the village of neskuchnoye, the family moved to Kharkov, and soon in the hands of her dead husband. She was left with four children and mother. For a long time the main issue was to ensure the sustenance level "do not give to children to starve to death". The artist settled in the Archaeological Institute, made sketches of the finds. Lived in terrible poverty and the most impossible to believe that this now is life, and the past – crumbled like a house of cards. Except that sometimes in conversation she pulled out a convulsive: "We live all the time dreaming of somewhere to go".

How different and grown up, stretched out and much emaciated children from that depicted at Breakfast. Is it possible to learn Russian artist Tanya – thin, with downcast eyes and childish humility in posture and facial expression – sleek plump little girl from "Breakfast"? The youngest, Katya, the picture is not shown. But certainly she was different than here: big-eyed girl in the background, in the eyes which seemed frozen despair, helplessness and insecurity. In persons older boys there is not the slightest hint of serenity and mischief: anxiety and strange for kids tihost, humility.

Has changed not only the face. Individual character "Breakfast" was someone from adults the soup on plates. These hands – like a guarantee of safety, children under protection, they are fed, unharmed, carefree. Here, this character acts as a ravished doll, lying near a small vase with wilted flowers.

The children are all in dark clothes, around the set is not white as in the portrait of happier times, and the dark cloth of the table, closely their inlets, as if warming to each other, they look at your card structure, fearing that it will collapse, and at the same time knowing that Yes, this house will crumble like crumbled all of their past life. House of cards has replaced the dining still life of bygone days – well, talking about the current way and a cozy, warm house. Kids collect the cardboard house, as if trying to restore the collapsed, seemingly unshakable in his calm way, he burned the house, which they no longer return. And the cards are scattered...

Painting Serebryakova echoes "Card houses" Chardin that also build children (1, 2). Some researchers believe the symbolism in these cases, the only "handiwork" of art historians, believing that Chardin wrote just kids, passionate about the game. Others see in this game is the allusion to the fact that the whole French monarchy will soon collapse like a house of cards, others believe that it's not about political symbols, and about life in General, attempts to control which is similar to the construction of card houses... and as profound.

Author: Alain Esaulova