Vladimir Egorovich Makovsky
Signed in Cyrillic and dated 7907 l.r. oil on panel. Peasant children were favourite subjects of Vladimir Makovsky's single-figure compositions. Throughout his life he depicted 'healthy, blooming, joyful children, those close to nature and also those who had been forgotten - the beggars and the vagrant children of the city's paupers' (E.Zhuravleva, Vladimir Egorovich Makovsky, 1970 Moscow: Iskusstvo, p.7). He became known for his ability to capture the fleeting expressions of face and gesture in his painting, and the uninhibited, open nature of children made them particularly attractive subjects. Tentative and morose, the sulking boy in the present work is a charming example of Makovsky's work at the peak of his career. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Makovsky genuinely understood the deprivation on Moscow's streets and in the provinces, and some of society's least distinguished figures populate his unpretentious portraits and vignettes. In 1901 he began work on an extensive series of paintings and drawings to illustrate a new edition of Gogol's Dead Souls, which may have provided inspiration for the present work.