The painting “Reapers” is another example confirming the significance of the image of the Russian peasant for Venetsianov. We can see similar peasants and the harvest theme in many of his other works.
While walking through the field, the artist was fascinated by the sight of two simple peasant reapers, admiring the beauty of butterflies perched on the reaper’s hand. These were Anna Stepanova and her son Zakharka. It was they who then posed for the artist.
The first thing that strikes many is the very butterflies that the village boy admires with bated breath. Alexey Gavrilovich portrayed them in such a way that at the first glance at the picture it was not immediately clear whether they were drawn or real!
In the face of a boy looking over his mother’s shoulder, we can see delight, endless interest in these motley butterflies. He is still very young and sees the whole world as one beautiful composition, each element of which you so much want to see and know.
Zakharka’s mother tilted her head to her son and looked away, smiling condescendingly and easily. The facial features and her gaze express kindness, modesty and tiredness of many hours of work.
With thick and confident strokes, the author creates peasant clothes: the mother has a white canvas shirt, darkened from work, a yellow scarf on her head and a Russian patchwork sundress, and her son has a black monochrome shirt. The same strokes created the sickles in the hands of the peasants, and the freshly mown ears of corn behind their backs. All these items help to easily understand and feel the plot of the picture.
The conciseness of the picture and the impression it produces is enhanced by the skillfully noticed Venetianan details. It is enough to compare the gentle wrists and hands of the mother and the son’s rough, chapped fingers, or the heat on the face of a tired woman, or the ring and beads of a peasant woman striving for beauty. The work literally absorbs the beholder, forcing him to feel the atmosphere of spellbound contemplation.