The painting “Birch Grove” was begun by I. Levitan in 1885 in Babkin, and finished in 1889 in Plyos on the Volga.
This canvas fully reflects Levitan’s great ability to put into a simple natural landscape the richest gamut of human feelings and experiences.
Before us is an image of a corner of a birch forest on a bright sunny day. The artist perfectly conveys the movement of sun glare on the white trunks of birches, the play of shades of green grass and tree leaves, the glow of sparks of white and lilac-blue flowers in the grass. The play of light and shadows in the picture makes it lively, quivering, creates a “mood”.
Birches are infinitely happy about life, and it even seems to us that they are smiling merrily at the sun and grass. Everything around blooms, radiating a feeling of joy, involvement in the energy of life. The viewer seems to find himself in the middle of a fragrant forest heated by the sun, under the shade of birches rustling with greenery.
In addition to the obvious parallels with the Impressionists (Levitan will see their work with his own eyes a little later, when he is in Europe, and will not be so indifferent – but will generally take it without much enthusiasm), “Birch Grove” evokes almost obligatory associations with three more names: Arkhip Kuindzhi , Camille Corot and Anton Chekhov. The composition of the canvas is impressionistic, as if taking us deep into the grove, and the dynamics of the image, and the “technical solution”, and the manner of painting. With the help of a rich palette of colors, overlaying spots of light and shadow, Levitan achieves perfection in the transfer of the light-air environment. The picture seems to be permeated with the sun, it seems to emit a magical emerald light.
The painting “Birch Grove” is distinguished by its spontaneity and freshness of feelings. It was about this picture that A. Chekhov said that she “has a smile.” The canvas “Birch Grove” is loved by many generations of people and is perceived by us as a national image of our native nature.
Year of painting: 1889.
Painting dimensions: 30 x 50 cm.
Material: paper on canvas.
Writing technique: oil.
Gallery: State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.