Whenever I post pictures of women on this blog Mrs Kartoshka becomes agitated. Why? It’s not jealousy – not one of them can hold a candle to her. It’s because they are usually brunettes. Mrs Kartoshka is a blonde. The contempt with which blondes regard brunettes is monumental.
So- I have selected this picture for two reasons: because like Mrs Kartoshka she is a blonde, and because like Mrs Kartoshka she is a Russian Venus. I should point out however that Mrs Kartoshka is about 50kg with her hat and coat and boots on, whereas this lady is more generously built.
The painting is Русская Венера (Russian Venus) by Boris Mikhaylovich Kustodiev (Борис Михайлович Кустодиев:1878– 1927).
Kustodiev, who was known for illustration, stage and graphic design as well as his paintings, provides the link between traditional Russian realism and the classically influenced realism of the Soviet era. He studied under the great Russian painter Repin, who wrote I have great hopes for Kustodiev– praise indeed.
Kustodiev’s political awareness was awakened by the 1905 Revolution, and he produced satirical works in response to those troubled times.
Themes of traditional Russian life filled his work, indeed the times that Kustodiev spent away from Russia (he studied in France and Spain and later went to Switzerland for medical treatment) strengthened his love of his homeland.
From 1916 onwards Kustodiev was paralyzed from the waist down by spinal tuberculosis.