Nikolay Baskakov (1918-1993)
The Melody

signed in the lower right
oil on canvas
61 x 47.5 cm

Price on request
A beautiful stranger in a colourful dress leant herself over the piano in the painting called "The Melody" by the Soviet Russian artist Nikolai Baskakov. The blush on her cheeks appears to be in the perfect harmony with her fiery ginger hair, fashioned in a neat hairstyle, and the red flowers, perhaps poppies, depicted on an ultramarine blue dress. The whiteness of her porcelain skin contrasts with the richness and brightness of the image. Baskakov has created a large number of outstanding portraits. However, most of his heroines can be attributed to the worker-peasant type of women workers, who were so popular in the Soviet painting. These portraits were aimed at reflecting the real truth of Soviet life, and the women depicted on them, patient and powerful, have tanned faces with large and rough features. Thus, it is all the more surprising that the painting "Melody" depicts the woman who belongs to the artistic, refined type, much less common in the Soviet painting. She is the embodiment of lightness, grace, elegance, and inspiration. The picture is painted in broad, large, bold strokes, which creates a sense of swiftness of the moment, a blink of an eye. Even though Nikolai Baskakov was a committed realist in his work, he absorbed the ideas of Impressionism and masterfully applied them in his works, adjusting to his original artistic manner. This genre painting with portrait elements illustrates Baskakov's exceptional skill of working with colour: he unmistakeably knew how to create the right atmosphere, a proper mood in the painting with the help of colours and their subtle relationships with each other.

This vivid beauty who instantly catches the viewer's gaze has the appearance of an ambassador of enlightenment, arts, culture, in other words, the Muse. Artists have regularly used the image of the Muse since ancient times. Muses have always been portrayed as beautiful young women with glorified, spiritual, inspired faces and musical instruments as attributes. In general, musical instruments play a significant role in the history of art, having different symbolic meanings in different epochs, as for instance, some musical instruments were often associated with romantic feelings or pointed to mythological characters. Ilya Repin, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Eduard Manet, Giovanni Boldini, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Gustave Caillebotte, Paul Cezanne and many other great artists devoted their works to the image of a woman at the piano. French artists of the XIX century were using the "woman at the piano" motif over and over. Such images reflect the proper, respectable education for women in that particular period of time and the importance of the skill of playing a musical instrument in the development of femininity as men have perceived it. Curiously enough, Baskakov's heroine does not reflect this passivity that is so inherent in the works of the XIX century which emphasises the view of the ideal manifestation of femininity in the XIX century. The image of the woman in "The Melody", on the contrary, is quite modern in this respect: the viewer seems to find the woman at the moment of movement which metaphorically represents the different status of the woman in the society. Thus, Baskakov continues a deeply-rooted tradition of European painting but also brings something of his own, his individual artistic perception and his contemporary attitude.