The painting was painted in 1922.
Kustodiev liked to depict provincial Russia in his paintings. Those villages that were on the upper Volga attracted him especially. It was here that those images of the merchant and philistine life were born, which became the themes of his creations. The original motive of the fair and Shrovetide was constantly varied by the artist. The effect was always as colorful, colorful and necessarily major. This is the special affinity of the painter’s work to folk art.
Gradually, the beginning of the ironic-theatrical grows in the composition of paintings. The feeling of idyll, irreality, filled with nostalgia and sadness, is becoming stronger.
We see a merchant woman and a brownie standing in front of her. The furnace is open. Fire at night creates a special impression. He emits a characteristic crackle, casting bizarre shadows. Such sounds can not only pacify, the appearance of unaccountable anxiety is possible. A carpet lies in front of the open door of the oven. This situation is extremely dangerous, since sparks can accidentally fall on it.
Kustodiev’s merchant woman is absolutely defenseless. She sleeps in a completely open pose. Her bed is a chest with a duvet and feather bed. Feathers are allegorically connected with the clouds of paradise. According to the official religion, brownie belongs to the dark world. But before, he was considered the real owner of the house, who protected him from all evil. The presence of a brownie was considered normal.
The brownie is depicted in darkness and reflection. The lantern next to it shines back. The question is, why did this character come for? Most likely, he portends something bad. The reflection of the fire burning in the furnace is the real quintessence of anxiety, danger on a global scale. The intensity of the color speaks of its great strength.
In the combination of shades there is a special aggression and incredible pressure. Red, like bright lightning, tears through all space. A small gust of wind is enough for the fire to spread throughout the room.
The picture evokes an increasing sense of anxiety in the audience.