The ‘Golden Autumn’ of Russia has long served as inspiration for artists, painters and poets alike, resulting in magnificent works of art and poetry. Talented artists have given us nature lovers, invaluable gifts, that can awaken even the deepest parts of our hearts…

Yellow Autumn I.I. Levitan 1895. ( Wikipedia )

Beauty manifesting through the matured artists soul

Let’s first examine a slightly different depiction of Russian nature.Golden Autumn’ by the talented painter Polenov, who adds the flavor of delicacy and maturity to his magnificent autumn painting.

If ‘Golden Autumn’ by Levitan portrays the season as brilliant and vibrant, Polenoc’s ‘Golden autumn’ can only be described as harnessing refined serenity to create its perfection.

The ‘Golden Autumn’ by Polenov is deemed as the symbol of Russian nature for its unique portrayal of the beauty of Autumn, which stands out from all others Russian paintings.

Painter Vasily Dmitrievich Polenov 1844-1927. ( Wikipedia )

A nobleman of great talent

Vasily Polenov was born in 1844 into a well-educated noble family. His creative career contributed largely to the Russian art house in the second half of the 19th century.

His great talent was established under the influence of a traditional Russian education in the 19th century. The inspiration for his love of art and nature came from his mother and grandmother. He also showed remarkable talent in music. In the absence of professional music training, he still managed to compose opera pieces and romances, and organized family musical balls.

Between 1882-1895, he lectured at the Moscow School of Painting. He helped Levitan, who was at that point one of his students, to discover a colorful, diverse and strange world in painting.

Polenov had an affectionate love for nature and its harmony.

Golden Autumn
Yellow Autumn – Polenov V.D. 1893 ( Wikipedia )

The delicacy of Polenov’s ‘Golden Autumn’  

A sense of space is created in the piece by the arcing shape of the river. The river spreading out in this archy meander helps to broaden the space, and draw the eye out into the distance. It gives the viewer the feeling of standing on top of a hill, and from there, the spectacular vivid scenery unfolds.

The painter has captured a true scene of the Oka river sitting opposite to the Ochkovy mountain range, with its white bell tower sparkling in the sunlight in the upper right hand corner. It sits, almost unnoticeable but still in a prominent position, perhaps in reflection of the relationship between God and man. God, an always silent observer and caretaker of the human spiritual life. The painter reveals a respectful nod to God through this sophisticated point.

With the broad panorama, not all interesting components unfold at once. Our eyes are led naturally to follow the river, reaching further and further, deep into the painting. The viewer is absorbed by the complex landscape until they gradually sense all of its charm, full of emotion and autumn colors.

Despite its abundance of rich color, the painting is in amazing harmony. Thanks to the subtle touch of the painter, this colorful autumn scene is poetically depicted. Yellow, in a plethora of various tones, plays the leading role in the painting. Elegant rows of birches with yellowing leaves gracefully embrace the river. Green and exuberant oaks seem to still sustain the energy of the summer and denounce the attraction of autumn. The picture seems to be steeped in sunlight. The sun tints the clouds, the birches and also the duckweed in the river. The gentle blues of the river meander in accordance with the light color of thick clouds and the smoke on the horizon. The result is to give the painting a dreamlike floating effect.

Polenov captures all of the tones of the sky and glitters them rhythmically, from the small gray clouds, to the light blue sky and gentle sunlight. All have their own rhythm and are ready to waltz together. The vivid color of the sky is mirrored in the color of the water, awarding the painting its balanced perfection.

Nature’s beauty captured through the eyes of the experienced man

The landscape depicted by Polenov produces an intimate feeling, perhaps brilliantly described in this quote,

Looking at it, I want to be in this region, walk along the path that stretches along the birches. I want to go down to the river, look at its waters and breathe fresh air. When looking at the hills, which are outlined by soft lines, the desire to lie down on their silk grass awakens, to inhale its fragrance and to set the face of the rays of the still bright sun.”

Any viewer can find something intimately dear to themselves within it. Out of the warm feeling it produces, the painting could induce emotion from the very first seconds of contemplation.

And naturally, only a true nature lover, in possession of an affectionate eye for simple beauty, a undoubtable artistic talent and a profound and sincere love for his motherland, would be able to create such an artwork.