Description of the painting by Isaac Levitan “On the Volga” (1888)

Description of the painting by Isaac Levitan On the Volga (1888)

The picture shows the Volga shore, overgrown with grass near the water, and on an elevation covered with dense bushes and trees that appear in the water that flickers in the coming twilight. Water recreates the rays of the setting sun gliding over it, telling it a certain mystery and incomprehensibility. The reflections seem to echo the dark green reflections of the treetops, making them brighter, giving them blue and bluish shades, painting the water with a bright color.

The tops of the trees on the high bank are also illuminated by the setting sun and are depicted in contrasting light tones. In the foreground, thanks to the play of light, the river water is shown completely white. The opposite bank of the river is not visible, it is from him that the artist surveys the landscape, which helps him to increase the sense of spaciousness of the great river.

In the center of the green and blue color there are some warm ocher paints on the steep, clayey shore, free from grass cover. This brownish-red stain gleams in the mirror of water, doubling the impression of warmth. And the protruding bridges and a boat abandoned not far from them in the absence of people complement the feeling of desolation and abandonment, although the audience does not feel anxiety and tension. The lack of plot and dynamics convey the sad and touching feelings of the author. The depiction of the Volga, calmly stretched before the onset of night, shows the picture of the everyday life of the great Russian river.

The sky on a canvas of a smooth grayish color, almost without shades and nuances, only in the very corners of the canvas light clouds stand out slightly. The painting “On the Volga” amazes with its touching penetration into the soul; it conveys the anxious and restless state of the author, who filled it with a special philosophical meaning. The majestic free-flow of the Russian river, the strict lyrics of the Volga landscape gave the author an unusual look of domestic nature, interested him with a powerful epic splendor.

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