Artist: Ivan Shishkin
Date: 1887
Media: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 147 x 108 cm
Ownership: Russian Museum, St Petersburg
Winter Palace, St Petersburg; Hermitage Museum, Leningrad (until 1927)
Style: Realism


This work is an excellent example of Russian Realist landscape painting in the second half of the nineteenth century. Ivan Shishkin painted the picture in Dubki Park in Sestroretsk – a seaside resort near St Petersburg famous for its enormous oaks, some of which were originally planted by Peter the Great in 1717.

Dubki Park is situated on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, twenty miles to the north of St Petersburg. The park was founded by Peter the Great on 20 September 1714, when he landed there as he led a squadron of Russian and captured Swedish warships home after victory over King Charles XII at the Battle of Hangö.

Ivan Shishkin first came here in the 1860s, when he planned to open a studio where landscapists could work in the summer. The artist was a regular visitor to the park in the 1880s, when he painted this particular canvas. Created when he was at the height of his career, this landscape ranks among Shishkin’s finest works.

Although concentrating on three trees, the artist does not deflect attention from the whole landscape image, creating a realistic and expressive environment filled with light and air. The sunlit oaks, the trees and flowers and the distant trees against the light sky symbolise the fullness of life, evoking a joyous perception of the world.

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