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1896; canvas, oil; 48x70; Russian Museum.
The woman in the cart is far from the most famous painting of the great Russian painter, undeservedly forgotten and ignored. Perhaps the chosen plot and some uniformity of the palette make it not so memorable as compared to other masterpieces by Serov, but it is far from being as simple and unambiguous as it might seem at first glance.
In the foreground are the main characters of the picture - a sinewy old horse, wandering heavily under the yoke, and a woman in a headscarf riding a cart. Around them is a familiar landscape of typical Central Russian nature: the deciduous forest in the background is barely touched by the crimson colors of autumn, a small rivulet cuts the plain in two, and a sheaf of compressed straw is visible. The colors are selected the most restrained, dull, inexpressive, as if in order to emphasize more strongly the routine, the typicality of this plot, its dull routine.
And the horse, dutifully wandering to his stall, and the woman, chasing her to the house, seem to barely notice what is happening around. One could say that the heroes of the picture are immersed in their thoughts, but fatigue does not give them time to think. The dullness from daily work, repeated once in a while, drives the heroes of the canvas into the same sleepy melancholy numbness that engulfs the attentive viewer.
Hopelessness, the simplicity of life and the inevitability of the coming end were reflected in this simple and, at the same time, provocative plot. The picture is one of the most beloved and appreciated by Serov himself, who always fiercely defended its value. According to the author, through his creation, he wanted to convey the general universal thoughtfulness characteristic of both a person endowed with reason and nature as a whole, in all its manifestations: in living creatures, plants, even in heaven and the earth surrounding us.
Giraffe On Fire