Hermit. 1888–1889
144.5 х 126.4 Oil on canvas

In his first major painting, Nesterov embarks on a search for Russian religious ideal. The artist portrays the union between a soul absorbed in spiritual contemplation and hidden nature, untouched by civilisation. The hermit's face, with its pure, almost child-like expression, makes him look like Russian holy elders. The pilgrim’s slow movement is directed towards the viewer, creating an impression of a meeting on the road. The dark clothes underline the soft light that the old man's face seems to emanate. Quiet peacefulness descends on the entire landscape. When working on the painting, Nesterov became perfectly aware "that somehow in this northern, inconspicuous nature you better feel the meaning of Russian life and the Russian soul". The hermit’s image was followed in Nesterov’s art by a series of characters that were "humble, meek, seeking seclusion and ardent prayer in the soul", the images of Holy Russia that were kept in the people's heart.

Additional info
Genre painting
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