The Merchant’s Wife
oil on canvas
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I found this on the wikipedia page about samovars, doing research for better all day tea-swilling solutions. I love everything about it—the giant classically-Russian woman, the neon palette, the cat engaged in such a familiar cat gesture—of rubbing his face on you in hopes of charming you into sharing your lunch, the people having tea in a distant balcony, the man wrangling a proud white horse in the street below, the bizarre, seafoam sky. The food looks absolutely sensual, the flavors perfectly produced in synaesthetic colors. The rich, cold, smooth roundness of the melon recalling the same traits in the beautiful human subject. I have never seen a more effective advertisement for sitting down to tea.
Boris Kustodiev was born in Astrakhan into the family of a professor of philosophy, history of literature, and logic at the local theological seminary. His father died young, and all financial and material burdens fell on his mother’s shoulders. The Kustodiev family rented a small wing in a rich merchant’s house. It was there that the boy’s first impressions were formed of the way of life of the provincial merchant class. The artist later wrote, “The whole tenor of the rich and plentiful merchant way of life was there right under my nose… It was like something out of an Ostrovsky play.” The artist retained these childhood observations for years, recreating them later in oils and water-colours.
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