Summer Day. 1915 - Russian impressionism museum
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Summer Day. 1915

Konstantin Gorbatov

Oil on plywood

“He grew up among old fishing boats at their moorings, with their patched up sails, heavy barges, the smell of silt and water, and freshly caught fish. The unrelenting, fiery sun hit the green and red roofs of waterside houses… he spent weeks exploring riverbanks, listening, watching, sketching and painting his studies – insatiably, and with great pleasure.” So wrote the artist Igor Grabar about Konstantin Gorbatov, whose “Summer Day” dates from one of the most remarkable periods in the artist’s career, his Russian one. A small painting executed with light brushstrokes, the landscape is filled with sun, the clear sky echoing the calm reflection of the water. The year was 1915; the artist had just returned from a trip to Europe, and it seems obvious that he had missed his native landscapes while away from home. He would paint the gloomy views of the provincial Russian North (Novgorod, Vologda, and Uglich) with the same enthusiasm as he had the sunny Italian landscapes and views of Capri, where he met the writer Maxim Gorky, who admitted that he found the young artist’s works “terribly” appealing. Gorbatov would continue to paint Russian landscapes even in immigration, from memory. In most of them, there would be “churches, innumerable churches, a stack of them at a time,” as Grabar described. No matter how hard life’s blows might hit him, Gorbatov always remained true to his artistic credo, “Art is a Celebration.”