1897; canvas, oil; 83 x 64; Tretyakov Gallery.
“Merry minute” – the most recognizable of the works of artist Antonina Leonardovna Rzhevskaya. A descendant of an impoverished noble family from Tver, Antonina Leonardovna studied at the Mariinsky Gymnasium, and then, after moving to Moscow, she graduated from courses at the Moscow Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. Her paintings are full of life and light, it is often simple household scenes, as if accidentally peeped in the most ordinary houses.
Such is the Merry Minute, which has been loved by many generations, a canvas that, when looking at it, causes an involuntary smile of joy. Dynamic, made almost exclusively in bright colors, filled with movement. Looking at the presented plot, the viewer, as if awake, hears the sounds of music filling a small room in a wooden hut where the grandfather and his two grandchildren are having fun.
In the foreground is the figure of a little boy flooded with light. The child has his back to the viewer, he is wearing a loose shirt, short trousers and shoes, he stamps on the spot to the sound of the harmonica, on which his older brother plays, crouching on a bench in the left corner of the picture. A teenager with a harmonica of no more than fourteen years old, wearing a white apron on his work, draped over a scarlet shirt, he apparently only took a break from his job for a minute. Perhaps distracted his arrival of his grandfather, who is depicted in the picture in a street sheepskin coat. An old man with a blooming white beard devoutly dances, admiring his little granddaughter.
All the action of the scene takes place in the workshop. Wooden sawdust is scattered around the three actors, carpentry tools hang on the back wall of the room. Obviously, work is in full swing here, and only for a short time has work given way to entertainment.