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The Sunlit Willows, Ivan Shishkin - Description of the Painting



The Sunlit Willows - Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin. Canvas, oil. 62 x 85 cm


Each and every time, when turning to nature, Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin sought and found novelty in the forms that would seem usual, at first glance. One of the strongest subjects in his creature is expressive sunny etudes. The painter created the amazing series of sunlit trees, including “The Sunlit Pines”, “The Sunlit Spruces” and “The Sunlit Willows”.

The “Sunlit Willows” etude bases on the opposition of the figure of a peasant woman and of a girl who is picking berries under the shade of mighty willows seem, both of them looking touchingly small when compared to the crowns of trees over their heads. People look protected by nature itself, which keeping them guarded against the midday sun. This blissful calmness is emphasized by the pure and joyful colors of this painting where warm tones predominate.

The sun glare plays in the foliage, being reflected in the puddles in the foreground of the picture, and translucent shadows glide along the crowns of the willows; nature seems to be coming to life before the viewer’s eyes, breathing the freshness of the recent rain and warm wind.

By applying a clear spatial structure of the composition, Shishkin allows people to feel the fullness of his painting and invites them to consider majestic trees in detail, admiring the bewitching sunlight play - the two protagonists of nearly all of his pictures.

The master painted many sketches as required for his studying nature. As per the observations of the artist's contemporaries, his sketches were of great success, representing among collectors almost more value than the completed and carefully crafted works.

P. Tretyakov used to be one of the greatest connoisseurs of the artist's talent; he often bought Shishkin's sketches. The colleagues of Ivan Ivanovich treated his sketches as being no less interesting than the completed paintings, sometimes rating them higher than the master’s other works.
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