When I came across Serovís Girl With Peaches I was immediately struck by the casual lighting. Typically an artist will position the model so that the light strikes the side of the face, cutting out the shape with contrasting lines. Servo captured an awkward combination of lighting, reflecting from the tablecloth and walls. The light was neither flat nor obviously directional, offering a beautiful and unexpected composition. In order to emphasis the simplicity of lighting I removed many elements from the painting (background furniture, leaves, knickknacks, wall decorations) to make it less conflicting and to give the lines of form less interruption. Along with form, the removed elements greatly simplified the color contrasts, giving the scene a much more relaxed palette. Even with these modifications, I give credit to Serov since it is the lighting, the most defining aspect of his painting, which is the essence of my vision.
Valentin Serov (born 1865) lived in Munich and Paris with his mother between 1872 and 1875 and had the chance to study art under master painters and showing a great aptitude. In 1875 they moved to a major cultural center outside Moscow. The colony was on the country estate of Savva Mamontov, who established the Abramtsevo Art Circle. The Dream Religion, another painting in this exhibit, based on a church at the Abramtsevo artist's colony.
At the age of 22, Servo painted the daughter of Savva Mamontov in Girl With Peaches. It is speculated that Servo was unfamiliar with French Impressionists of the day, although he was influenced by many of the same great Masters as they were. In that painting and others Servo achieves some of the essential qualities of the great Western painters. He soon became the most acclaimed Russian portrait artist of his day and continued to paint portraits and landscapes while advancing his technique until his death in 1911.
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The Abramtsevo Artistís Colony
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