1881. Oil on canvas, Tretyakov Gallery.
In childhood, the artist witnessed the death of his father. Probably, the experiences of a six-year-old baby were reflected in the film “Sick Husband” many years later. He remembered for the rest of his life how childishly naively asked God not to take a parent, long and sorrowfully thought about something of his own, childish. From sorrowful days, grief and children’s pain have been deposited for the rest of their lives.
The scene of the picture is a simple village hut. The situation of extreme poverty: the window hastily been curtained in a simple piece of cloth, instead of a bed, a bed plank cut by the owner with a straw instead of a mattress, next to it is a small shop with a simple meal for the patient. The viewer understands that the family lives half-starved, interrupting the man’s penny wages.
In the red corner a few icons in salaries – the only value of the owners.
A woman is praying to the silent faces, her figure expressing utter despair. On her knees, with her head humbly lowered, she asks to send her husband deliverance from the disease, to prevent misfortune. She has no one else to ask for, there is no hope for the doctor’s help and treatment – she has no money.
Fishing hooks and snatches of nets are scattered on the floor – the artist depicted a peasant house on the Volga. In the Volga region, he himself often traveled – looked out for an interesting nature, rested, probably fished.
Clearly feminine despair – the breadwinner, the only worker in the family, was sick. Husband fished – his catch and fed, and earned a living.
In the picture, every detail, every stroke is filled with sympathy for what is happening. Emotions of the artist helped him create a real masterpiece – it was no wonder that the canvas created a sensation in the society, became a landmark event in the art world.
The canvas received the highest praise from V. V. Stasov – the venerable critic was struck by the work of Maximov.