Vasily Perov was an avid hunter, so the theme of hunting is often encountered in his works. Such canvases with self-explanatory names as “Fisherman”, “Dovecote”, “Birds”, “Hunters at Rest” have become the artist’s calling card.
The plot of the painting takes its origins from real life, during the artist’s time hunting was very popular: three men stopped to rest after a very successful hunt. We can judge their success by looking at the lower left corner of the canvas, where we will see a couple of ducks and a hare killed. The heavy, leaden sky, yellow, dry grass and warm coats on the hunters show us that it is late autumn outside.
The artist uses bright light to emphasize the faces and hands of the characters in the canvas. An aged man, apparently an experienced hunter, vividly and passionately tells something to his friends. By his facial expression and body posture, one can judge that his story is most likely about a curiosity or an incident on the hunt. The young hunter, on the other hand, listens very attentively and seriously to the “mentor”. But the middle-aged man, the one to the left of the narrator, clearly does not hide his distrust of the speeches of his comrade, and is ironic.
Behind the usual, seemingly everyday plot of the picture, Vasily Perov hides symbolism and deep meaning. On the canvas, he confronts the three stages of each person’s life. The symbol of old age is depicted in an elderly hunter who lives in the past, in memories. Youth is in a naive young man who takes everything at face value, and maturity is a middle-aged man who relies only on his experience and strength.
An interesting fact is that each character in Perov’s painting “Hunters at Rest” has a real prototype, who are also great lovers of hunting, friends of the artist: D.P. Kuvshinnikov, V.V. Bessonov and N.M. Nagornov.
Year of painting: 1871.
Dimensions of the painting: 58 x 89 cm.
Writing technique: oil.
Genre: genre painting.
Gallery: State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.