Description of the painting by Valentin Serov “Oxen”

1885 g .; canvas, oil; 47.5 × 59.5; Tretyakov Gallery.

The picture belongs to the early period of the artist’s work, but Serov’s style features are already noticeable in him: confident mastery of the brush, rough, clear strokes.

It features a distinctive plot chosen for the sketch from rural life. With subtle skill, a simple, at first glance, scene of feeding the oxen after the end of the working day was conveyed. The color contrast of black and white gives the picture a depth, makes the viewer think about the dual nature of the world.

It was as if a pair of animals that had come together in a hay-filled cart were deliberately selected. A scarlet rag casually thrown over the straw adds color, as if it divides the picture in two. Another bright color spot is a chicken between the hooves of a white ox. Against a general neutral background, these details create a disturbing feeling, make the scene emotionally saturated, lively, eye-catching.

The elaboration of the background was done carefully, but it does not distract from the main characters of the picture. Slouching farm buildings, a white house in the distance, a gray cloudy sky, the trodden land of the farmyard under the feet of animals - all this together gives rise to a melancholy mood. A look against the will focuses in the center of the picture, where the oxen, almost touching their faces, are busy feeding.

The work done with the firm hand of the master looks voluminous, filled with life and meaning. It is surprisingly harmoniously built in its proportions, the viewer's gaze smoothly flows from one detail to another, perceiving the whole plot as a whole. A sketch from a village life performed by a painter turns into an eternal motive for the unity of two opposites.

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