Herd on the Collective Farm, signed twice and dated 1958 and 1959.
Oil on canvas, 116.5 by 180 cm.
Provenance: Collection of the artist’s family, Moscow.
Galleria Marco Datrino, Italy.
Private collection, Europe.
Exhibited:Arte Sovietica, dal regime alla perestrojka 1930–1985, Galleria Marco Datrino, Torre Canovese, 1992.
Ot realizma k iskusstvu, Pushkin House, London, June 2008.
Stalin’s Velázquez. Aleksandr Gerasimov and the Alchemy of Power, Leonid Shishkin Gallery, London, 1 November–5 December 2012.
Literature: Exhibition catalogue, Arte Sovietica, dal regime alla perestrojka 1930-1985, Torre Canovese, Galleria Marco Datrino, 1992, p. 34,
No. 28, illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Ot realizma k iskusstvu, London, Pushkin House, 2008, p. 17, illustrated. Exhibition catalogue, Stalin’s Velázquez. Aleksandr Gerasimov and the Alchemy of Power, London, Leonid Shishkin Gallery, 2012, illustrated.
Herd on a Collective Farm dated 1958–1959, is an excellent example of the work of Aleksandr Gerasimov’s late career.
His lifelong respect for the accomplishments of Impressionism — the consequence of his studies at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture under Konstantin Korovin, the most revered representative of the movement in Russia — is obvious. Gerasimov’s brushstrokes are broad and fluid and he places much emphasis on conveying the changing effects of nature on the canvas.
Despite the sun, there are grey clouds overhead auguring an approaching storm, and a general heaviness is descending over the herd and milkmaids. The line of the horizon has been shifted down creating a sense of monumentality and the ominous clouds gathering while the animals idly lie scattered about the field create drama. The artist cuts off the figures of the animals and the milk churns in the foreground, further adding to the sense of vastness of the space.
The chief protagonists are the peasant milkmaids and the animals themselves — prosaic characters, to whom the artist devotes his full attention, bestowing them with a sort of everyday heroism — whose simple, honest labour allows for the development of the country.