“Red Square in Moscow”, Fyodor Yakovlevich Alekseev – description of the painting

Description of the picture:

Reddish Square in Moscow – Fedor Yakovlevich Alekseev. Canvas, oil. 80.2 x 111.5 cm

F. Ya. Alekseev is a professional landscape painter who lived in St. Petersburg at the end of the 18th century. After himself, he left many works depicting the architecture of Russian cities. One of them is the described picture.

Ruler Paul I in one thousand eight hundred and one sent the academician of promising painting Alekseev to Moscow to write its views. The painter decided to start from the “heart” of the town – the Red Square.

In the picture, Moscow becomes before us what it was at first in the 19th century, Alekseev professionally conveys the life and spirit of his own time.

In the center of the canvas depicts St. Basil’s Cathedral, and in front of it is the Execution Ground. On the right side, the painter placed the Spasskaya Tower and the Kremlin wall with a moat filled with water in front of it. Far away from the wall are the spiers of the Ascension Monastery and the Royal Tower. In front of the Spasskaya Tower is a two-story public library of the associate of Peter I Vasily Kipriyanov. On the left in the front plan are market rows and the building of the Main Pharmacy. The reddish square still serves as a trading floor. We see shops with food and merchants.

Alekseev not only specifically copies architecture, he tries to show the life of Muscovites. The area is not static, it is full of life and movement: horse-drawn carts and carriages move, dogs bark, babysitters and children go around, trade rages, people of various classes are busy with their own affairs, a grenadier squad marching from the gates of the Spasskaya Tower.

Compositionally, the work is built on a combination of vertical and horizontal planes. The vertical towers and spiers of buildings assign volume to the painting, and the horizontal of the square makes it look like a theater stage.

Half of the canvas is a soft blue sky with white clouds. Soft daylight falls on the square and assigns depth to the landscape. The yellowish, brown, beige tones of the buildings are shaded by the clear and transparent blue of the sky. Thanks to such coloring, the work acquires the ease of watercolor.

There was no photo at that time, and such paintings were called upon to play its role, capturing a moment in the life of old Moscow. The metropolitan series of Alekseev took advantage of the huge success among the public, the painter received many orders for copies of his own works.

The painting in one thousand nine hundred and seventeen was donated to the Tretyakov Gallery by businessman and public figure Pavel Afanasevich Buryshkin."