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"Contemplator" Ivan Kramskoy

10 July 2021
"Contemplator" Ivan Kramskoy

Contemplator - Kramskoy. 1876. Oil on canvas. 85x215 cm

The 1870s-80s of Kramskoy’s work are marked by his great interest in peasant life - the painter writes a lot of simple peasant people in their native surroundings, guided by their usual emotions. The "Contemplator" painting is one of the most striking and characteristic works of the subject period.

On a snow-covered, icy path, the viewer sees a peasant standing. He is dressed in simple and pretty shabby clothes - the caftan at the bottom and on the sleeves is clearly torn off, the bast shoes are half-broken. One gets the obvious impression that this man with a weathered face was walking through a rare forest and suddenly, unexpectedly for himself, stopped, plunged into his thoughts. Looking at a person's face, it is difficult to understand what this poor man is contemplating, however, one intuitively understands that his thoughts are more connected with his tough life rather than with a poetic admiration of the surrounding nature.

There is an opinion that the painting was named by Pavel Tretyakov. The canvas aroused great interest in him, although it was not yet finished. Expressing his admiration, the patron for some reason refused to buy the work when Kramskoy had made all the finishing touches. The "Contemplator" hung in the painter's studio for two more years until it was bought by the public figure Fyodor Tereshchenko. Nowadays, most of his collection, along with Kramskoy's paintings, belongs to the Museum of Russian Art in Kiev.
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