This is the last big picture of the great Russian artist. Written by him in the last year of his life, when Kustodiyev was already almost completely struck by his serious illness. Feeling the severe pains that spinal tuberculosis causes, Kustodiyev tried to portray the collective image of the Russian village beauty in his picture. A plump young lady, sparkling with health, brilliance, purity of freshly washed skin. Her golden hair falls like a waterfall on one side. A sincere, lively smile and a cornflower blue, beautiful eyes.
It is important to pay attention to the environment in which the girl is. This is a common village bath, which thousands throughout Russia. The girl is true Venus, as soap bubbles are visible at her feet, and as is well known, according to legend, Venus originated from the foam of the Mediterranean Sea, and in Russia from a hot foam bath soap.
The image of Russian Venus, in Kustodiev’s view, is personified in a healthy girl, in the prime of her life, strong, in the lush body of a village woman. Capable of creating a strong family and the birth of healthy children.
Kustodiev attracted thin women who have a lively mind, such was the artist’s wife. But more often than not, the author in his paintings liked to depict fat women. He portrayed them with some tenderness, and sometimes, even mockery.
For this picture, Elena Nikolaeva, a young country girl, posed for the master. Quite remarkable is the fact that during the restoration of the painting it turned out that a broom made of birch twigs was painted on the girl’s body a year after the painting was completed. This once again confirms that the artist greatly appreciated the opinion of his beloved wife and apparently spent a whole year thinking about the painting and nevertheless decided to finish the subject covering the girl’s intimate place.