Comparison of Pavel Fedotov’s “Major’s matchmaking” and its repetition.

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In 1850, two years after the painting of the first version of the painting “Major’s Matchmaking”, Pavel Fedotov began work on its second version alternatively titled “Bridesmaids in a Merchant’s House” .

This repetition is an oil on canvas of 56 X 76 cm, completed in 1852, and is now kept in the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. The plot and composition were preserved, but Fedotov makes such serious changes that there is reason to see here the beginning of a new stage in the development of the artist’s creative method.

The major's marriage proposal repetition - 1852 by Pavel Fedotov
The major’s marriage proposal repetition – 1852 by Pavel Fedotov

Comparison of Pavel Fedotov’s “Major’s Matchmaking” and its repetition.

In the second version, Fedotov is stricter in the selection of details, having removed many in order to focus the audience’s attention on the main thing and give greater sharpness to the situation presented in the picture.

There is no chandelier, which he thought distracted attention, and interfered with the integrity of the perception of the whole scene by their positioning, which was exactly in the middle of the canvas and broke the picture in half,

We notice that the curly brackets were removed at the junction of the wall of the room with the ceiling, as well as intricate paintings on the ceiling depicting flowers. The paintings hanging on the wall were painted in less detail and even the intricate pattern on the tablecloth is changed to a simple, plain kaki tablecloth. In addition, the icon is replaced by a fruit plate .

The appearance of the major has changed a lot. In the first version he looked relatively fit, brave and not without some attractiveness. In the second version his posture turns into a pretentious one, and the figure becomes ridiculous. His hair darkened, his forehead became narrower, and bags appeared under the eyes . He also acquired a big belly but kept his thin legs.

The image of the merchant’s daughter has also undergone significant changes. In the first she was depicted in a caricature and seemed stupid, capricious and clumsy, causing ridicule. But in the second version, a soft femininity appears in her, and even some grace. Instead of a somewhat caricature personification a living person appears, causing the viewer not contempt, but sympathy .

The dress of the mother became more colorful, and she also seem to have lost a bit of weight but instead of patience and caring, we see anger on her face.

The merchant, who was placed against the background of a round stove, in the first painting is now placed against the lighter background of a rectangular stove and seems a little closer to the foreground.

The sitter’s face, partially hidden by the cook’s head in the first painting, is completely uncovered in the second.

Thanks to the changed accents in the images of the major and the bride, the perception of the situation depicted by the artist also changes.

In the first version of the picture, the major and the bride evoked an ironic attitude from the viewer but not anymore.

In the second version, the major looks like a more negative character which causes sympathy for the merchant’s daughter and concern for her fate.

I hope you enjoyed that article.

Read the Poem about the painting “The Major’s Matchmaking” by Fedotov Russian/English

Discover the “Major’s matchmaking” by Pavel Andreevich Fedotov

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