Evening in St. Petersburg, Vasily Ivanovich Surikov – description

Description of the picture:

Evening in St. Petersburg – Vasily Ivanovich Surikov. 1871. Watercolor on paper. Thirteen x 20 two cm

   The light watercolor airiness of the painting perfectly matches the depicted time of day. Thanks to the writing technique, the shadows appear transparent, as is the case on cold evenings, and the contours of objects and the outlines of the figures appear softly blurry, somewhat amorphous, as if smoothed by a stream of cool, wet St. Petersburg air.

   The volume and a special feeling of coolness are underlined by the weak, pale radiance of a dazzling snow-white full moon and the piercing artificial light of lanterns along the avenue.

   Naked trees and the contours of buildings blurred in the shade are poorly read in the background, standing out only with the well-known contour of a bulky dome with a tower of St. Isaac’s Cathedral.

   A bay horse, harnessed to light sleds, quickly runs along a snowy road. They are seated by a passenger, sheltered by a bear’s cavity, and a chariot ruler in a fitted caftan rules the sled. A lady in a red skirt glides along the wall, merging with her transparent shadow.

   But the portion of the canvas closest to the viewer shows representatives of a completely different class – the worker. Ordinary people gathered around the counter with a blazing hinged lantern – a janitor in a snow-white apron, two ill-fated beggars and a beggar boy. Their figures are made in an incomprehensible brownish-gray politra and are truly distanced from other representatives of the then society. Other heroes of the picture are painted with more colorful and freshest colors, seemingly placed on the other side of the street, away from commoners.

   The transparency of the colors of the picture helps to convey the ringing purity, the depth of the cool winter air, the special colors of the evening and the brightness of the light – natural and artificial. This genre picture seems to be a greeting from the long-lost in the stream of life time, the memory of the 1st person, captured by light watercolor strokes."