Ivan Kramskoi (1837-1887), Inspection of the Old Room, 1874, oil on canvas, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.
This week I moved house. Where a walk from the kitchen to the bedroom had for a while been punctuated by the rustle of strewn newspaper and the effusive pop of bubble wrap, life quickly changed from being cluttered to boxed up.
Languorous and intimate, Ivan Kramskoi’s Inspection of the Old House delicately captures the moment between an old life ending and a new one beginning. Graceful, fragile, with men resembling stopped clocks (a death?), saying farewell to a house can be overwhelming. Where once every infinitesimal thing inside was placed in harmony with one another, with the hope of bringing out at least some personality, order suddenly becomes intermingled and confused.
An example of 19th century realism, Ivan Kramskoi’s paintings exist in a place between portraiture and genre. An intellectual leader of the Russian democratic art movement (often called The Wanderers), his subjects – religious or contemporary – disclose complex personalities, emotion and fates. Watching like sentinels, with knees on the verge of buckling, these fates look uncertain.
Don’t worry, mine isn’t, in case you were worried. TA