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“The Racea”: What does the excursion poem about, which the artist Fedotov wrote in his painting “Major Matchmaking”

The painting by Pavel Andreyevich Fedotov “The Matchmaking of the Major” is now in the Tretyakov Gallery. She has no shortage of attention and viewers. All the more interesting is the tour conducted by the artist himself in the poem of his own work “The Racea”. It was written specifically for the story of the painting and read in 1849 at the exhibition of the Academy of Arts.

“Here you are kind to look!”
The racey, that is, edification, moralizing, concerns what is happening on the canvas. A whole performance was played before the viewer – with many actors, with understatement or, conversely, excessive pretentiousness, with the irony that the author put into the work – not just a painter, but also a playwright.

“Honest gentlemen, come here!
We ask you for favor, we won’t ask for money:
Watch for nothing
Just wipe the glasses well. ”

The plot revolves around a merchant bride and a gallant major who has been granted a match. Fedotov, as a master of critical realism, could not ignore the custom of contractual marriage, where each of the parties had a material interest.

Fedotov begins the “excursion” with a story about the house in which the action takes place: “here’s the merchant’s house, there’s plenty of it, but there’s nothing to sense”. The merchant, who has earned a great fortune, is dissatisfied with his social status and is going to improve it by passing off his daughter as an impoverished nobleman, otherwise “my beard is a daunting trouble for me. Everyone pushes on the street. ”

The merchant, despite the claims, is not quite ready for the new role, and therefore looks ridiculous:
“Doesn’t get on with a frock coat,
He is more familiar with the Armenian;
As he beats, puffs, hurries to fasten:
To accept wide open is disrespectful. ”

The mother of the bride, having bargained for the daughter of “even a major,” is also not at ease:
“I didn’t find, to know, the cap on the head.
In the old way – in a gray scarf.
The rest of the outfit is taken from the Frenchwoman
Only an evening for herself and for her daughter. ”

The daughter, dressed in everything French, was not accustomed to attention and communication, “our bride will not find the foolishness of a place”, and therefore she is trying to run away in embarrassment, “and the smart mother should grab her dress!”
In the next room is the bridegroom, and Fedotov also has a vivid characteristic about him:
“The major is thick, brave, full of holes in his pocket, twists his mustache:
“I say I’ll get to the money!” ”

A deal that is taking place in front of the viewer, which has nothing to do with love and in general with any lofty feelings, but only concerns the exchange of status for material goods and vice versa, is ridiculed by Fedotov as an unsightly phenomenon of the time.
The picture is complemented by characters who add credibility to the scene. This, first of all, matchmaker – an indispensable participant in “mutually beneficial” marriages.

“Like, on the right, a retired village spinner,
Pankratyevna-matchmaker, unscrupulous cheating,
In brocade sludge, thick warehouse,
I came with a report. ”

Separately, Fedotov draws the attention of the audience to the situation at home. This is a table set for the groom’s arrival, paintings hung on the walls, on one of which is “Father Kutuzov, who first opened the heels of the French”, and “in the middle hangs His Eminence Metropolitan”.

And at the end of his story, the artist points to a character who attracts attention no less than the bride and groom – a cat that “washes the nose”. As befits a race, it cannot do without parting words –

“She wouldn’t be a little bad
Learn the village ladies
Wash more often. ”

The painting “Major Matchmaking” was a huge success; the Academy of Arts awarded Fedotov the title of academician. A “tour” ends like this:

“And what, gentlemen, are your eyes tired?
And here, to the left – holy images …
Please cross yourself
Yes, go home … ”

Few people know which Fedotov’s painting is on the list of five unfinished paintings by famous artists. But there are such paintings.

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