Nikolai Petrovich Bogdanov-Belsky
- Nikolai Petrovich Bogdanov-Belsky
- Two Girls on a Swing, 1940
- signed N. Bogdanoff-Belsky (lower right)
- oil on canvas mounted on board
- 33 3/4 by 27 1/2 in.
- 85.5 by 70 cm
Private Collection, Latvia (acquired directly from the artist in 1940)
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Nikolai Bogdanov-Belsky, already famous for his paintings of peasant children, left Russia for Latvia in the fall of 1921. There he found a renewed sense of inspiration and continued his peasant children series, often depicting his subjects in traditional Latvian costume. He was frequently commissioned to paint portraits of friends and their family members, and he executed the present double portrait in 1940 at the request of Mr. Alexander Cauka of Gulbene, Latvia. The image depicts Mr. Cauka's daughter Erita and a family friend, both in Latvian dress. Such costuming varies subtly from region to region of the country, but typically features a pleated skirt of brilliant colors along with a white blouse and decoratively patterned sash. Here the young girls wear crowns of cardboard covered in cloth and embroidered with beads and tinsel, and they also wear traditional jewelry, including silver brooches with red stones and tiny silver leaves, used as fasteners for the blouse or shawl.
Bogdanov-Belsky was a master of plein air technique, exemplified to superb effect in this composition. He intricately demonstrates his ability to capture minute qualities of light, creating a sense of atmosphere that emphasizes the vivacity and youthfulness of his subjects.