Gerasimov's strong and highly politicised works contrast with his flower still lives and landscapes which show the strong influence of the Impressionists.
This painting reflects Gerasimov's great love of flowers and the charm of the Russian summer. The artist frequently painted roses and peonies as an antidote to the formal Socialist Realist compositions which he was required to create.
Gerasimov paints with a thick impasto technique which recalls Impressionism. The heads of the flowers seem to invade the physical space of the viewer and the book, placed at an angle on the dressing table, seems to invite the viewer to push it back to a safe position from which it cannot fall.
The composition is similar to a still life in the Sochi Museum of Art and there is another similar still life in the The Kiev Museum of Russian Art.
Oil on canvas
88cm x 95cm
Alexander Mikhailovich Gerasimov was a celebrated Russian artist and one of the leading proponents of socialist realism.
Gerasimov studied at the Moscow School of Painting from 1903-15. He favoured a style which became known as 'Heroic Realism' which featured images of revolutionary figures as larger than life. In 1925 he set up a studio, painting images of Vladimir Lenin and other revolutionaries as larger-than-life heroes.
In 1941 he won the Stalin Prize for “Stalin and Voroshilov in the Kremlin", his best-known painting. He became Joseph Stalin's favourite artist and received another three Stalin Prizes in 1943, 1946 and 1949 and was also appointed the president of the USSR Academy of Arts in 1947. After Stalin's death, Gerasimov lost some of his titles and a number of paintings were removed from museums. His works are still owned by the Tretyakov Gallery, the Russian Museum, and other galleries.