This delightful painting was completed when Maliavin was still studying at the Saint Petersburg Academy. The influence of Repin in clear and there is a strong emphasis on draughtsmanship, the smooth application of paint and an elegant composition where the hot red of the boys' jackets is contrasted with the diagonal cream triangle of the stringed instrument.
Oil on canvas
225 × 125.5 cm; 88¾ × 49½ in.
Malyavin was born into a poor peasant family. As a young man he made the journey to Mouth Athos and subsequently trained as an icon painter. In 1891 Malyavin met Vladimir Beklemishev who was a professor at the Saint Petersburg Academy of Arts. Malyavin was persuaded to enrol and he studied under Ilya Repin. In 1900 he travelled to Paris where he was profoundly influenced by the Impressionists but where, importantly, his own art was rapturously received. Malyavin returned to Russia but, following the Revolution, Malyavin and his family returned to live in Paris where he painted portraits and exhibited widely in Europe.