Pavel Fedotov. Painting Breakfast of an aristocrat, 1849

Painting Breakfast of an Aristocrat by Pavel Fedotov

Pavel Fedotov. Painting Breakfast of an aristocrat, 1849
Pavel Fedotov. Painting Breakfast of an aristocrat, 1849

Breakfast of an Aristocrat is a picture in which Pavel Andreevich Fedotov, in a satirical manner, portrayed a young dandy, ready to do anything in order to demonstrate external well-being.

The author has built the composition in such a way that when looking at the canvas, the viewer becomes an involuntary witness of the unfolding action. A fashionable and seemingly expensively furnished room: a Persian carpet on the floor, carved furniture, a figurine on the closet, images of dancers on the walls.

Painting Breakfast of an Aristocrat by Pavel Fedotov – a comic scene from the life of a metropolitan dandy

The protagonist of the work also creates the impression of a successful young man who has the opportunity to afford luxurious home clothes for those times: wide trousers, fancy shoes, a silk robe, a brocade headdress in an oriental manner. However, if you look closely, it becomes clear that the first impression is deceiving.

On the table lies a meager meal – a piece of black bread, which the artist deliberately highlighted with a spot of light, next to it is an empty wallet turned inside out. A casually torn package of playing cards is lying on the floor, next to it is a straw trash can in the shape of a Greek amphora. And the notorious carpet is pretty worn out. An aristocrat, captured in impetuous movement, looks ridiculous and comical. Trying to chew a piece, he got up from his chair, frightenedly turned towards the door and at the same time covered the bread with a book.

A poodle with a fashionable lion haircut stands next to the chair and looks warily at the door. What alarmed the inhabitants of this room? An intruder whose glove is visible from behind the curtain. He appeared at the wrong time and can by his appearance destroy the image of a prosperous dandy, so carefully created by the aristocrat.

Title of the painting: “Breakfast of an aristocrat”.
Author: Pavel Andreevich Fedotov (1815-1852).
Year of writing: 1849
Size: 42 x 51 cm.
Style: Realism.
Genre: Household.
Technique: Oil painting.
Material: Canvas.
Location: State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.

Pavel Andreevich Fedotov is an outstanding Russian painter of the first half of the 19th century, who became the founder of critical realism.

In his works, he often sarcastically on topics that were acute for society. The painting “Breakfast of an Aristocrat” was no exception. It is believed that Fedotov was inspired to write this masterpiece by Ivan Goncharov’s feuilleton “Letters from a Capital Friend to a Provincial Groom”, in which the author ridicules the desire of young people to demonstrate imaginary prosperity when there is not a penny in their souls.

With a subtle mockery, the master portrayed a typical dandy-bouncer and with each detail expressively emphasized the discrepancy between his external image and internal content. A leaflet with the words “OYSTERS” next to a meager breakfast demonstrates that delicacies are available to an aristocrat only on paper. There is a bell on the table to call the servant, but the young man has no footman.

The protagonist of the work, like that trash can disguised as an antique vase, tries with all his might to appear as something significant and interesting, although in fact it is very mundane and prosaic.

Fedotov himself called the painting “Not at the time of the guest”

The work is also known under the name “False Shame”. And it received its current name after the death of the painter in 1862.

The painting “Breakfast of an Aristocrat” by Pavel Andreevich Fedotov is an instructive work about how often the external image is strikingly different from the internal content. The author expressively and ironically played on the topic of throwing dust in the eyes, which has not lost its relevance to this day.