The funeral of the first-born - Nikolai Aleksandrovich Yaroshenko. Canvas, oil.
The painting "The Funeral of the Firstborn" was painted in 1893. It is known that in the 1880s a significant change of subjects was outlined in the artist’s work: if he had previously paid attention to the feat of man, now human destiny has come to the fore. The painter in his canvases often tries to solve the question of what kind of power makes a person who has all the same inclinations as those who have reached the top of the public ladder suffer and work ten times more than others.
At the same time, an abyss lay between the depicted realities and the audience. The paintings helped to realize that the life of a simple worker is full of hardships, which wealthy people are deprived of, and imbued with compassion for him.
At the end of the 19th century, the main medical problem was high infant mortality. Everyone, regardless of social status, could face the death of a beloved child.
The picture builds a bridge between people from wealthy families who, it would seem, have nothing to do with commoners, and the people. It becomes clear that humanity is united in that it feels love for children and sorrow from their loss.
The canvas depicts a couple burying the firstborn. The faces of the husband and wife are cloudy. The death of a child, especially the first and especially the newborn, is incomparable suffering. I recall the words of W. Thackeray, who talked about the fact that we suffer most from the death of a newly born creature who has not yet managed to recognize us, in whose heart we did not manage to take its rightful place.
Next comes the undertaker, as if nothing had happened smoking a pipe. He had seen many deaths in his lifetime, and now takes them for granted. He understands that dying befalls everyone born, years of work made his outlook on life philosophical.
In all the works of Yaroshenko, a moral basis is traced. Beauty in the name of itself was alien to him - he always tried to put lofty ideals and feelings into his creations.