Among the portraits of Ilya Repin, portraits of the painter’s family members can be distinguished into a special group. He experiments a lot in them, because he writes them “for himself.” One of the most famous such portraits is “Dragonfly”, painted by the artist at his dacha near St. Petersburg in 1884. In the portrait, Repin depicted his eldest daughter Vera Repina.
The picture leaves the impression of a common scene, accidentally spied on by the author. The composition of the canvas is extremely simple. We see a girl who is cheerfully swinging her legs, sitting on the high bar of a picket fence. It really resembles a dragonfly that sits on a flower and flaps its transparent wings. The girl’s pose is natural and free, full of liveliness and enthusiasm. A fidget and a mischievous woman is about to slip down and run away merrily.
A hat amusingly fixed with a ribbon under the chin, a seriously perky look of dark eyes, sunbeams on the face and neck – all these details add to the image of spontaneity, carry us into the world of children’s games and dreams. The artist frankly admires the ease and charm of the young creature, his carefree joy of life.
The whole space on the canvas – both the air itself, and the colorful, in light folds, the girl’s dress – is as if saturated with the sun. Behind the child’s back is a clear summer sky, slightly shaded by the whiteness of clouds. At the bottom, on the canvas, there are slightly dried grass meadows with a thin brush. The canvas is quite active in terms of color, but the shades of color are pastel, delicate.
Stylistically, the painting “Dragonfly” differs from most of Repin’s paintings. And the technique of writing, and the interpretation of the image, and the feeling of the immediacy of what is happening here are very reminiscent of the impressionistic ones. In the picture, Repin managed to create an image in which there is a lot of warmth, tenderness, love.
Year of painting: 1884.
Dimensions of the painting: 111 x 84 cm.
Writing technique: oil.
Gallery: State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.