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Polesye, Ivan Shishkin - Description of the Painting



Polesye - Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin. Canvas, oil. 123.7 x 97.5 cm


The picture under the "Polesye" title perfectly reflects Shishkin's favorite plot, since here one will find the age-old pine forest, which is truly proud and majestic, appearing before the viewers in all its unshakable tranquility. There is a wide sunlit road, running away into the distance, on which a carriage with a troika of horses has stopped.

The left part of the work depicts is a chapel pillar with an icon on it, to which the gaze of a man standing next to the wagon is turned tot. Traditionally, such poles were installed at the crossroads, and people of the past used to treat them with due reverence.

People are usually rare guests in Shishkin's paintings, and the presence of a human in the "Polesye" makes is particularly remarkable. The master expresses his admiration for the landscape beauty and at the same time creates a contrast between human and nature, emphasizing the greatness of nature and the world harmony. It is astonishing how tiny the figure of the coachman is in comparison to the backdrop of tall pines stretching upwards.

The crew of the carriage seems to be at a crossroads: the road goes to the right, while to the left one can observe a barely noticeable path, immediately lost in the depths of the forest. The trees in front of the carriage seem to be parting, to reveal boundless expanses of forest under a bluish-green haze on the horizon.

The color scheme of the painting is made of green, ocher and gray-blue tones. The color combination may seem simple at first; however, it the simplicity of the palette of natural colors attracts the viewer's attention, fascinating, evoking memories, and thoughts. Nothing can ever be more familiar and closer to a human than beautiful views of nature, freedom, and expanse of one's motherland. The master managed to convey this discreet and enchanting beauty with striking skill.

The "Polesye" has not survived to this day in its initial form. The right part of the canvas is exhibited in the Kiev Museum of Russian Art, but there is another fragment of the work, stored in a private collection.

Subsequently, the master repeated "Polesye" in a reduced format for one of his admirers. This second version of the picture is kept in a private collection in Moscow.
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