This marvellous painting shows three milkmaids in a relaxed atmosphere sharing a joke. The milkmaids are pictured resting on the grass, laughing loudly besides the milk urns, with cows grazing behind the fence in the background. The women's simple white working robes and industrial size milk urns suggest that they work at a collective farm. One of the milkmaids is sitting comfortably with a broad smile on her face, while the other two women are so overwhelmed with laughter that they cannot even sit straight.
While the painting conforms to the Socialist Realism principles of showing labourers, the emphasis of this work is not on the glorification of labour but rather the wonders of rest and relaxation.
The picture contains strong impressionist elements with bright saturated colours and broad brushstrokes. Another version of this well-known painting is exhibited in the Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis.
Oil on canvas
69.5 × 120 cm; 27¼ × 47¼ in.
Baskakov is regarded as one of the leading representatives of the Leningrad School of Painting. He studied at the Leningrad Institute of Painting and later at the Repin Institute. Baskakov was drawn to images of Lenin and the broad style of Socialist Realism. However, he was also a skilled portraitist and his work shows the influence of the French Impressionists. His work was largely unknown in the West until a number of exhibitions in Paris in 1989.