Isaac Ilyich Levitan was born into a Jewish family in the Lithuanian town of Kibarty, on the border with Poland. From an early age until his death, his origin was the reason for the constant humiliation of the artist and disrespect for his talent. Already while studying at the Art School in Moscow, young Isaac began to create talented landscape works. However, most of the teachers considered the boy's passion for the Russian landscape insincere and far-fetched.
At the end of the school, Levitan received a diploma of a teacher of calligraphy, and not an artist - although even during his studies one of his works was bought for a lot of money by Tretyakov for his gallery. The humiliation continued in the future - the artist was twice expelled from Moscow for his origin. Only at thirty-eight years, two years before his death, he finally received the title of academician of painting. All these ups and downs did not have the best effect on the artist’s health - he suffered from aneurysm of the heart and died in the prime of his life, leaving a large number of magnificent landscapes. Despite its origin, today Levitan is considered the most Russian landscape artist. In his paintings, he was able to capture the essence of the soul of Russian nature, to show the variability of its moods, the fine lines of the changing weather and seasons.
Painting Winter landscape with a mill - one of the most poetic winter works of Levitan. Despite the stinginess of colors and almost completely black and white coloring, the picture conveys the cheerfulness of the Russian winter. The thaw depicted by the artist allowed a small rivulet to shed ice. In the dark blue water reflects the winter sky, bare tree branches and bushes. The banks of the river are hidden by slightly melted, wet-soaked snowdrifts. In the center of the picture is a small old mill composed of mossy black logs.
The thatched roof was almost completely covered with snow, but in some places the white cover fell off, revealing to the world ragged rotted sheaves of straw. A little further on are flimsy bridges across the river, disappearing into coastal bushes. The dark, watery thaw areas near the mill house bristled with lingering brown grass, and slippery black ground appeared beneath it.
In the background is a dark ridge of forest, slightly covered with snow. Low light, monochrome sky occupies more than a third of the space of the picture. Levitan believed that a real artist should not write separate objects, but try to grasp the general, that in which life has affected. In the painting Winter Landscape with a Mill, he succeeded to the fullest; for the rhythm of light and dark colors, the subtleties of black and white details, an integral picture is formed.
Looking at the canvas, you literally feel how crunching, crushing and settling, melted wet snow under your foot, how icy melt water murmurs joyfully, making its way to the light. Considering the low skeletons of bushes sprinkled with white powder at the mill building, one can imagine how dry black branches crunch in their hands, dropping snow clothes onto the ground. From the picture it blows with a premonition of spring, an early thaw. Nature, depicted by the artist’s talented hand, is ready to break free from the shackles and be reborn - but is still dozing under the cold northern sky.
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