June Night. 1911
‘Get the horse ready, Volodya, we're off to sketch from nature.'
That was how it was every morning, even if the artist was going to sketch right next to the gate of his house. Nikolai Meshcherin’s driver would get the horse ready, prepare the easel, and open the box with brushes and paints. The artist would most often sketch early in the morning, striving to capture the first rays of the sun. Or, like this painting, he would capture the serene night in June, filled with the scents of the field and the songs of crickets.
Nikolai Meshcherin was mainly a landscape artist, and the nature of Central Russia was his muse. This painting, like many others, was made in Dugino, Meshcherin’s ‘painting studio.’ The mansion purchased by the artist’s father, a manufacturer, was located near Moscow on the Pakhra river. The artist produced his own landscapes there, and he wholeheartedly and insistently invited his fellow artists to visit. Each artist was given his own room, and one could work in the special studio. The whole house was at the guest’s disposal, with even a driver available to take them out on a sketching trip from nature to the neighbouring villages. The locals soon became used to seeing artists wandering in the neighbourhood with their easels, and practically stopped noticing them.
It is not surprising that “all the Moscow artists” visited the Dugino house, and Levitan and Vasnetsov spent long periods as guests there. The artist Grabar would remember this time: ‘After spending a week in Dugino, I was in no hurry to leave…when I talked about this with Pereplyotchikov, he waved his hands as he spoke and laughed: “Give up the idea! Nobody gets out of Dugino so soon!” And I got stuck there, indeed.
The painting “June Night” enchants with its serene twilight glow, the subtle tonality of colours made by combining warm and cool paint. The landscape conveys a feeling of freshness, making you feel the unbelievable scent of the summer night. Somewhere on the horizon the sky reddens a little –morning will be coming soon. And we, along with the artist, stand still in pleasant anticipation. Even the fractional stroke of Nikolai Meshcherin’s pastel retains characteristics of Impressionist oil painting technique.