L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Sunday, December 29, 2019

The most telling moment - four genre paintings by Pavel Fedotov, from the collection of the Tretyakov Gallery

The Fresh Cavalier (The Morning-After of an Official who has Received his First State Order), 1846.
The Fastidious Bride, 1847.
The Aristocrat’s Breakfast, 1849-1850.
The Major's Proposal (Inspecting a Bride in a Merchant's House), 1848.


Pavel Andreievich Fedotov (4 July 1815, Moscow - 26 November 1852, St. Petersburg), Russian painter, he is known for his portraits and is considered the father of Russian domestic genre painting. The son of a retired army officer, he graduated from the Moscow Cadet School, then served for ten years as an officer in the Finland Regiment of the Imperial Guards in St. Petersburg. Like many of his military colleagues of the time he was interested in arts. He played the flute and attended evening classes at the Academy of Fine Arts, where he focused on painting; he soon gained a reputation as a regiment painter through portraits of his fellow officers and regimental scenes. But he eventually came to feel that art and military service were incompatible, and he retired from the army in 1844. Only two years later did he began to paint in oils for the first time. His first genre works were in the satirical mode of William Hogarth - an artist he held in high esteem - and these paintings were very well received. The upward trajectory of his career was checked somewhat by his connections with some members of the Petrashevsky Circle, a politically progressive group of intellectuals - Dostoevsky was a member - who went on trial in 1849.

Previous to 1852, his behavior was relatively normal, although he sometimes endured bouts of depression. But in the spring of that year he began to suffer from headaches, his eyesight worsened, and he started to exhibit significant psychological problems. He began spending money wildly, and made marriage proposals to various women, all at the same time. Eventually his behavior led to his arrest, after which he was put in a mental institution. His illness only worsened, certainly exacerbated by the primitive "treatment" of the time, which reportedly included corporal punishment. He died in the institution before the end of the year. He was only thirty seven.

Self-portrait, 1848.


  1. Fedotov was amazing... what a shame he died so young. His first genre works might have been vaguely modelled on the satirical mode of William Hogarth, but Fedotov's scenes were much less crowded with people and far more interesting. And funny. His object-filled homes and clothes that ranged from very informal to very formal made perfect settings.

  2. It's interesting how much care is given to the glass decanter and the reflection on it but then adjacent the salami looks like it was dashed off in 2 seconds..... I love seeing stuff like that!