Description of the picture:
Peter I – Valentin Alexandrovich Serov. 1907. Oil on canvas. 68,5×88
In a shaky, unsteady embankment, the great reformer strides broadly, confidently and firmly. His determination, pressure, energy led the centuries-old traditions, entrenched orders, the established life of a multi-million country into a vibrant movement.
The action of the picture takes place against the background of the new capital of the Great Empire under construction. On the opposite bank, the needle of the Peter and Paul Cathedral sparkles with gold. The first stone buildings are visible, signs of the city are visible. Everything is just beginning here. Instead of the future embankment – an earthen embankment, instead of palaces – the foundations of buildings in scaffolding.
The figure of the Sovereign is riveted to the attention of the viewer. Everything in it symbolizes strength and determination: a firm step, a blush on a weathered face, a sober look. Of the whole group, he is the only one who does not feel the strength of the wind. The group accompanying the king emphasizes his exclusivity. The nobles themselves chilly wrap themselves in raincoats, bend before the headwind.
An interesting figure is the tsar’s batman, carefully carrying the sovereign’s cocked hat. Who is this person with a non-Slavic appearance? Did Irabhim portray an artist? It is not known for certain. It is only clear that in the new Russia it is no longer the origin and antiquity of the race that affects career, but the ability and devotion to the idea of renewing the state.
The faces of the courtiers are hidden from the public. The author does not see the need to give them some individual features.
Very close by are the first ships of the Russian fleet. The Admiralty is not yet ready, there are no marinas, ports, but the main thing is warships and merchant ships.
A cow drinking water from the Neva is the most important detail. Thus, the author allows us to understand that, along with new buildings, the life of people who came to these shores seriously and permanently is gradually getting better.
Three seagulls soar in the cloudy sky, which symbolize the proximity of the sea, to which the new Russia is moving so rapidly.
The color scheme of the picture is poor. Schematically and simply, he conveys the atmosphere of a great construction site. But thanks to this restraint, the viewer has the opportunity to concentrate on the main idea of the artist: the changes initiated by the great sovereign are irreversible."