Illarion Pryanishnikov. Painting Fire victims, 1871

The painting “Fire victims” by Illarion Pryanishnikov

Illarion Pryanishnikov. Painting Fire victims, 1871
Illarion Pryanishnikov. Painting Fire victims, 1871

The Fire victims is a famous painting painted by Illarion Mikhailovich Pryanishnikov in 1871. As if begging for alms, several pairs of eyes look at the viewer from the canvas. In the center of the plot, against the background of a gloomy village landscape with a charred dilapidated barn, there is a still young, but already exhausted woman. She holds a small child in her arms and covers him with a hollow shabby sheepskin coat. Older children, with the energy characteristic of young age, try to occupy themselves, climbing the remnants of a wicker fence.

The oldest, 8-9 years old, stand next to their mother. Bare feet feel the dampness and coldness of the ground. Worn, faded, patched clothing is all they have left. Behind them, the skeleton of the stove gleams from a peasant hut burned down in a fire. The golden autumn ends. In the background, the wind ruthlessly flutters the yellowed birch leaves. Birds chirping in the gloomy sky foreshadow the approach of cold winds and plunge the viewer into a state of despair, at the same time revealing the magnificent skill of a realist artist.

The title of the painting: “Fire victims”.
Author: Illarion Pryanishnikov (1840-1894).
Year of writing: 1871
Dimensions: 62 x 88 cm.
Style: Realism.
Genre: Landscape. Domestic.
Technique: Oil painting.
Material: Canvas.
Location: Novosibirsk Art Museum.

Illarion Pryanishnikov is a talented Russian painter of the second half of the 19th century

He is a significant figure in the generation of the Itinerants, a bright representative of critical realism with a wide creative range. He painted portraits, landscapes, historical scenes, painted churches and illustrated literary works. But the closest thing to the master was the genre of genre, to which he remained faithful throughout his life.

The painting “Fire victims” was conceived by the artist on the wave of social upsurge caused by the abolition of serfdom, and became a collective image of all “humiliated and insulted”. Choosing a plot, Pryanishnikov strove to show the dark sides of popular life, to call on society to change the intolerable situation of ordinary people. To write a reliable scene, he carefully examined the types and details of peasant life, peered into faces, studied color.

The painting “Fire victims” by Illarion Pryanishnikov is a vivid image of peasant life in the middle of the 19th century

To create a visual effect, the master used a multidimensional composition, combined two genres in his work, carefully prescribing both the everyday scene and the landscape. The artist placed the figurines of children in different parts of the canvas, brought the compositional center to the fore, supplemented the work with exterior and landscape elements. The viewer involuntarily peers into the details of the work, trying to find previously unnoticed characters. The static structure and direct contact of the characters with the audience reinforces the resentment about the depicted event. The landscape has turned from a conventional background into an environment that not only complements the scene of peasant life, but also increases the intensity of perception.

The palette of the painting is replete with gray-brown tones, which also makes a depressing impression. But a large number of shades and soft color transitions allowed the author to embody a realistic image. Pryanishnikov, like a photographer, stopped the moment, grabbed a frame from the sad everyday life and captured it with his brush. The only element that went beyond realism was the stove of a burnt hut, which the artist depicted not charred, as it should be in reality, but snow-white.

According to the author, this approach was supposed to draw attention to the problem and become a symbol of the beginning of a new, better life. Illarion Pryanishnikov’s “Fire victims” was exhibited at the First Traveling Exhibition in 1871 and was recognized by critics as significant in the development of art. Having conveyed vivid and accurate socio-psychological characteristics, the artist created an epic work about the life of the common Russian people, which can serve as a visual aid for contemporaries in studying the history of Russia at the beginning of the second half of the 19th century.