Brook in a Birch Forest

Artist: Ivan Shishkin
Date: 1883
Media: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 105 x 153 cm
Ownership: Russian Museum, St Petersburg
Vera Annenkova collection, Leningrad (until 1935)
Style: Realism
Brook in a Birch Forest


Ivan Shishkin painted this canvas in 1883, during the most prolific period of his oeuvre. Having established his own creative method, based on an intense analytical research and portrayal of nature, the master was at the pinnacle of his professional career and increasingly aspiring towards greater artistic freedom.

Painted freely and confidently in soft green tones, this landscape combines exact draughtsmanship with minutely developed and faithfully depicted colours, capturing the specific features of the various plant forms. The picture is bright in mood and conveys the sensation of the peace and quiet of a summer day in a forest.

The thick grass, the supple trunks, the dense foliage penetrated by the sunlight and the sunlit meadow in the depths evoke an air of joy and the sensation of the power of nature. This overall mood is intensified by the figures of the two peasant women walking along the stream in search of mushrooms.

The period of summer blossom was the most popular and developed motif in the art of Ivan Shishkin, who always strove to introduce a detailed narrative into his landscapes. In this particular work, the ideas of the abundance of nature are closely linked to the concepts of human happiness, virtue and contentment.

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