Inspection of the Old House

Inspection of the Old House

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 clutter 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 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 once placed in harmony with one another, with its own personality – or at least intended to – order becomes intermingled and confused.

An example of 19th century realism, Ivan Kramskoi’s paintings existed 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. Standing like sentinels, with knees on the verge of buckling, these fates look uncertain.

Don’t worry, mine isn’t. TA

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