Summer. 1911 - Russian impressionism museum
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Summer. 1911

Nikolai Bogdanov-Belsky

Oil on canvas

The freshness of the morning, the gentle rays of the summer sun… Nikolai Bogdanov-Belsky’s "Summer" conveys a dream about the harmony of man and nature, and a boundless admiration for the world. There is an enchanting spectacle of light and colour in each fragment, in every movement of the brush, and in each colourful stroke. By 1911, Nikolai Bogdanov-Belsky was an academician and had earned fame as an artist. He travelled throughout Europe and painted portraits of the Imperial family. However, the reputation of a successful salon artist weighed heavily on Bogdanov-Belsky: he had to take on commissions, sufficient to bring in funds to allow him to spend the summer quite comfortably in the countryside. The painting "Summer" was much acclaimed – it was displayed at the 40th exhibition of the Peredvizhniki association, the artistic group also known as the Wanderers or the Society of Travelling Artists. It was reproduced in the groups’ catalogue too, which signified that the work was acknowledged as outstanding. Take a look at the unusual, multi-layered composition of the painting - how many stories in miniature can be found there? We see a girl with a book sitting on a bench at the bottom of a garden rich in greenery and full of flowers. Children were the artist's favourite characters. As Nikolai Bogdanov-Belsky himself said: “I have always been inspired by children, I have dedicated my whole life to them, and go on doing so. On the one hand, it is about the childhood memories and emotional upheavals of youth; on the other, the world of children is just so good!” Nikolai Bogdanov-Belsky’s own childhood, as the son of a poor peasant woman, was neither serene nor peaceful, and the artist never forgot the hardship he had endured. Paying tribute to his roots, he often painted scenes from the life of ordinary people, and he especially liked portraying peasant children.