Vasily Perov. Painting Hunters at Rest, State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, 1877

Painting Hunters at Rest by Vasily Perov

Vasily Perov. Painting Hunters at Rest, 1871
Vasily Perov. Painting Hunters at Rest, 1871

Painting Hunters at Rest by Vasily Perov – hunting tales in a famous painting by a famous Russian artist

“Hunters at Rest” is one of the most famous paintings by Vasily Grigorevich Perov, created in 1871. The author depicted an autumn landscape with a disturbing cloudy sky, grayish brown grass and colorless trees.

Description of the picture

In the center of the composition are three men who decided to rest after a successful hunt and sat down on the damp ground around an impromptu table. Instead of a tablecloth – a newspaper. On it are cups, a flask and leftover food (a piece of black bread, an egg and a cucumber). The dog, too, was not cheated – here it is diligently gnawing something tasty, abandoned by the owner. At the feet of the men lie guns and a hunting horn, and in the lower left corner you can see the prey – a couple of black grouse and a hare.

Men are passionate about conversation. The attention of the friends was captured by an elderly hunter in a solid and inexpensive suit, apparently an impoverished nobleman. Take a closer look at facial expressions and gestures – he tells his story with extraordinary passion, waving his arms, bulging his eyes and raising his eyebrows. How he really wants his interlocutors to believe his words!

Vasily Perov. Painting Hunters at Rest, State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, 1877
Vasily Perov. Painting Hunters at Rest, State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, 1877

The newcomer sitting opposite, dressed “like a needle,” listens to the story of an older friend with such trepidation and delight that he even forgot to light a cigarette, holding it tightly with the fingers of his right hand. And only the third participant, a peasant, only grins skeptically, scratching himself behind his ear. He already knows a lot of such hunting tales. The work, despite the gloom of the palette, evokes pleasant emotions. The heroes of the picture are satisfied with themselves and the work done, they are relaxed and set for a long rest in good company.

Author: Vasily Grigorievich Perov (1833-1882).
Year of writing: 1871.
Size: 119 x 183 cm.
Style: Realism.
Genre: Landscape. Household scene. Still life.
Technique: Oil painting.
Material: Canvas.
Location: State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.

Painting Hunters at a Halt, Museum. Vereshchagin, Nikolaev, 1870s
Painting Hunters at a Halt, Museum. Vereshchagin, Nikolaev, 1870s

About the artist

Vasily Grigorievich Perov is a famous Russian painter who worked in the 19th century. One of the founders of the Association of the Itinerants, he gained fame as a master of portrait and historical genres. Perov worked mainly on everyday scenes from the life of peasants, but the artist was also good at reproducing the environment.

The painting “Hunters at Rest” was created in the late period of creativity, when Vasily Grigorievich had already moved away from discussing acute social injustice and devoted himself to describing unpretentious everyday subjects. In this work, the master skillfully combined three genres – landscape, still life and everyday scene.

Hunting was one of Vasily Perov’s favorite pastimes, so it is not surprising that the artist painted the picture with knowledge of the matter and maximum accuracy to detail. Although there are nuances. Initially, the work was conceived as an anecdote, a kind of hunting bike. Therefore, an experienced hunter will discern absurdities in the picture – the hare’s carcass is intact, although according to the rules, the killed animal should have had its front legs cut off.

The gun is casually thrown to the ground with the muzzle down, but a real hunter will never do this, so as not to accidentally clog the barrel bore. Real people – Perov’s friends – fit into the plot very harmoniously.

In the image of the narrator, the author portrayed Dmitry Kuvshinnikov, a Moscow doctor and admirer of gun hunting, as an attentive listener, Dr. Nikolai Nagorny, and as a skeptic, their colleague in medicine Vasily Bessonov. Vasily Perov sold the painting “Hunters at Rest” to the patron of art Pavel Tretyakov, and since 1871 it has been kept in the Tretyakov Gallery. A few years later, in 1877, a copy was created by the author, which is now on display in the Russian Museum.

The picture was sent to the Vereshchagin Museum

In 1984, in the city of Nikolaev, one more replica of “hunters” was found. The painting was transferred to Moscow, where, after careful research, they confirmed the artist’s signature, the manner of painting typical for Perov, as well as the paints and primer he used. The author’s repetition in 2006 was returned to the Nikolaev Museum named after Vereshchagin.

The painting “Hunters at a Halt” by Vasily Perov has been repeatedly criticized by art critics, who considered feigned and unnatural emotions on the faces of the heroes. There were also comments from game managers due to some discrepancies in details. Despite this, the viewer’s interest in the work is only growing, and reproductions are often chosen as a gift for avid hunters.