Description of the picture:
Zakharka – Alexey Gavrilovich Venetsianov. Oil on cardboard. 39.8 x 30.7 cm
A.G. Venitsianov was one of the first in Russian painting to write peasant life. In the midst of his works there are many portraits of serfs living in his estate. In particular, he perfectly managed the images of the kids. Alexey Gavrilovich opened an art school in his own village for professional peasant children. He even bought some from other landowners.
The sketch “Zakharka”, which is currently in the Tretyakov Gallery, perfectly indicates the strength of the artist’s talent and his expressive gift.
The model for the picture was a real boy, the offspring of serf farmers Fedul and Anna Stepanov. Venetsianov, apparently imbued with sympathy for Zakhar, will write it more than once.
Although the image of a little boy is a small sketch, his strength is such that it forces you to slow down and consider these severe eyes beyond his years.
The image of Zakharka fills almost the entire plane of the picture. It’s not for nothing that the painter chose this perspective for his own model. The boy’s head is slightly turned towards the viewer, but he looks away. A hidden movement is hidden in his pose, and at the same time, farmer solidity and self-confidence are felt.
The picture is painted in black, only the face of the baby stands out with a bright spot. Colors unobtrusively run across one another, without distracting us from the protagonist.
At first glance, Zakharka’s face is ugly: wide cheekbones, disheveled blond hair, a nose with potatoes, puffy lips, and thick eyebrows. But the baby’s gaze is not at all childish, it is serious and intelligent, developed beyond its years. Such "little peasant".
It happens in the winter. The fur hat and mittens for the boy are obviously significant. Most likely – paternal or older brother. This means that the Zakhar family is poor and can be large, like most ordinary families at that time.
It is evident that the boy already knows perfectly well what hard peasant labor is. In the village, children grow up early. In his hand he holds an ax. Maybe he’s going to the woods for firewood or is going to help dad. His face is concentrated, for sure, the painter tore him from a matter of principle.
Venetsianov’s talent is such that the image of Zakharka evokes sympathy and empathy among the viewer. It can be seen that the boy, although small for years, is kind, smart and a good assistant to parents.
In his own works, the painter more than once demonstrated his confidence in the best qualities of the Russian people and the ordinary peasant. Venetsianov wrote serfs close to reality, without embellishing their way of life. And at the same time, his “peasant” portraits evoke respect and confidence in the strength of mind and purity of the soul of these people."