“Elk Island in Sokolniki” summed up Savrasov’s searches in the 1860s. The artist finally transformed his flirtation with romanticism into a mature and undoubtedly original realism, bearing the imprint of symbolism. It is in this parameter that the key difference between Savrasov and the realist Shishkin lies.
Shishkin writes a magnificent pine forest, and Savrasov – the unity of earth and sky, Russian melancholy, merged inseparably with quiet tenderness and sadness. At the same time, from the point of view of realistic technique, the picture is flawless. Each blade of grass is carefully traced, the artist’s intonation is narrative. He does not call for anything, but as if slowly tells what is happening in Russia.
The painting in 1870 won first prize at an exhibition of the Moscow Society of Art Lovers. Pavel Tretyakov immediately acquired it, which was a serious indicator of success – Tretyakov knew what to pay attention to.
The center of the picture is pine trees, stretched tops towards the sky. In general, Savrasov loved the vertical symbolism of trees, which signifies, understandably, what kind of uplifting aspiration. However, the artist does not go far into the jungle of symbolism; he writes not a symbol or metaphysical images, but a forest and animals. Everyday details give the picture vitality, in the image of which Savrasov was an unsurpassed master: sleepy cows, plucked grass around them, swampy puddles in the foreground and reflections of clouds in them. Before us is the Central Russian landscape so beloved by Savrasov. His mood is rather gloomy and at the same time commonplace, hopelessness mixed with humility and acceptance – such is the emotional fullness of Losiny Ostrov.
In comparison with the painting “Spring. Rustic View ”, written a couple of years before“ The Island ”, the artist’s palette and mood are much darker and gloomier – not only literally. “Rural view” is saturated with a sense of light lyrical sadness, vague, hidden spring cravings and not voiced, but clear hope for the changes that this floral whirlwind, crumbling from the trees from gusts of fresh wind, can bring. The sky is painted with transparent, shining colors, the picture leaves a feeling of flight and fills with joy, although it is inevitably merged with sadness. In Losiny Ostrov there were no transparent colors, no radiance, no hope for the spring wind. Yes, and spring is not left, it is long behind, and only autumn is ahead, and then winter, and, if you look from this island, they seem to be endless.
Year of painting: 1869.
Dimensions of the painting: 62 x 88 cm.
Writing technique: oil.
Gallery: State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.