The painting “On the Island of Valaam”, Arkhip Ivanovich Kuindzhi – description

Description of the picture:

On the Valaam Peninsula – Arkhip Ivanovich Kuindzhi. 1873. Oil on canvas. 76×130 cm

   In one thousand eight hundred and seventy-five, Arkhip Kuindzhi is married to a Greek woman, Vera Ketcherdzhi, and immediately after that they depart for a trip – to Valaam. The choice of a place for the post-wedding voyage is not accidental, because the peninsula in Lake Ladoga was a favorite place for all landscape painters in St. Petersburg. It was the turn of Kuindzhi to get acquainted with the beauties of a secluded land.

   Immediately upon returning home, the painter began to work hard, reproducing acquired memories. This is how the painting “On the Valaam Peninsula” appeared, which received exalted feedback from the very first exposition, including from “comrades in the shop” (Repin, Kramskoy).

   The painting depicts a naked stony guard. Through the heavy earth, similar to granite, once pierced and now rise two thin trees – pine and birch. The repetition of this natural ensemble gives extraordinary rhythm – two copies of their ensemble echo: two more trees a little further, and more. This technique takes the viewer deeper into the picture, to a dark forest and a grayish horizon.

   On the frontal plane there is a zigzag ribbon of a rivulet completely overgrown with sedge and flowing into a huge lake. It is presented timidly here – Kuindzhi depicted only its edge on the right side of the canvas.

   This whole multi-element, but rather empty landscape is illuminated by a silver light, indicating either sunset or an inevitably approaching thunderstorm. This technique creates a mysterious, wary mood.

   The sky is admirable. In the image of the sky with its entire range of color spills, Kuindzhi was an unsurpassed master. The lukewarm light-crimson color of the sky in the left corner of the canvas harmoniously flows into the deepest bluish in the center in order to completely become dark gray and dense above the lake itself on the right side of the work.

   The presented picture was the first acquired by the philanthropist Pavel Tretyakov, which, of course, proclaimed the recognition of the talent of the young artist."