“Date”, Vladimir Egorovich Makovsky – description of the painting

Description of the picture:

Date – Vladimir Egorovich Makovsky. 1883. Oil on canvas. 40 x 31.5 cm

Surely, the most penetrating work on a social topic by Vladimir Makovsky is the painting “Date”, which the creator finished writing in one thousand eight hundred eighty-three years. Here the influence of the artistic mobile association, which made the tasks of modern society at the forefront, obviously read.

The heroes of the picture are the poorest representatives of the Russian people, mother and offspring. The guy, due to lack of funds, was sent to the city as an apprentice, and this is a difficult work for many hours and not enough paid work. His mother came to visit him, bringing from the hotel only a loaf of bread.

The boy is dressed in a dirty dark apron, from under which you can see a colorful shirt with rolled up sleeves. There is nothing at all on his feet – a guy stands on the ground floor with bare feet. The face of the hero is breathtaking: the viewer does not immediately recognize the little boy in him, rather, this is the face of a man. The features were hardened, the gaze focused on food, and the expression was not childishly serious.

Mom wrapped in a scarf, shown by Makovsky in profile. She thoughtfully looks into the void, reflecting on the complex share of the offspring. How her mother’s heart hurts and groans … A hard sheepskin coat covers her shoulders, and an ordinary woolen skirt gives a hint to us that she came from the village, and most likely, on foot. Winter is in the yard, so its path was not ordinary.

Their meeting is devoid of hugs, discussions and generally any communication – the tormented heroes are tired of hard work and worries. The scenery, against the background of which their joyless date unfolds, only emphasize extreme poverty. Their meeting takes place in a dark room with blackened wood walls, where from household items we can only see a clay jug standing on a barrel. It seems that we can hear the ringing silence hanging in this cramped room.

The dark spectrum prevails in the picture, “diluted” only with colorful contrasting spots – the clothes and faces of the heroes. Makovsky deliberately highlighted the faces of his mother and his offspring with the help of a well-known trick – they are exposed to natural sunlight from a small window, which the painter deliberately does not include in the composition.

As for compositional construction, here Makovsky remains true to himself – he very closely brings the heroes of his own plot to the viewer, so that we can see their faces and dead eyes. This achieves a great sensual effect.

A thin boy with an adult face not older than thirteen years old, unusually hungry, barefoot, dressed in poor, well-groomed clothes, and his mother, who gratifies her offspring with bread, is a plot depicting the deepest actual tragedy of ordinary representatives of the poor population of Russia. And from work it breathes helplessness and hopelessness.

The picture “Date” by the force of sensory influence can be compared only with the “Little organ grinders” made fifteen years before the work being described.

Makovsky never limited himself to displaying social troubles, for which he was condemned by other wanderers, but if he nevertheless addressed this dilemma, he did it with his characteristic responsibility and cordiality, which is why the artist’s social works still resonate in our hearts."