The present work depicts a young boy hunched over a chessboard. He stands alone, next to a table with an open book and appears to be contemplating a textbook chess problem from different angles. The rich, dark palette and carefully painted details – the chess pieces, the blue tablecloth, and the boy's shiny belt – are typical realism elements found in other works by Reshetnikov. Yet the canvas is devoid of any signs of ideology, which was an essential element of Socialist Realism.
Oil on canvas
62 x 57 cm
Reshetnikov was a prominent Soviet painter who primarily worked in the Socialist Realism art genre and is also known for his caricatures. He was born in Sursko-Litovskoe, a village in modern Ukraine, to a family of an icon painter and studied in Vkhutein and later at the Moscow Art Institute from 1929–1934. In the 1930s he took part in the Soviet polar expeditions as an artist-reporter.
He was the winner of two Stalin Prizes, in 1949 and 1951. He taught at the Moscow State Surikov Art Institute (1953–1956), where he was a Professor from 1954. In 1974 he became a People's Artist of the USSR.