Lines and Colors art blog

Eye Candy for Today: Shishkin’s Mast Grove

The Mast-tree Grove, Ivan Shishkin
The Mast-tree Grove, Ivan Shishkin

One of my favorites by the great Russian landscape painter. “Mast-tree Grove”, means a stand of trees suitable for making the masts of large sailing ships.

I have to stand back in awe at the way he has handled a subject that could be reduced to sameness in the hands of a lesser painter. As you scan across the painting, Shishkin treats you to a dozen different sets of foreground to background relationships.

The entire, complex scene reads clearly and simply at any distance, thanks to his deft control of his compositional elements and lighting effects. An absolutely masterful example of the use of value in landscape painting.

The original is in the State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, which does not really have any of their collection online; just a tiny reproduction of the painting on this highlights page.

The Google Art Project has an inexplicably terrible, color-shifted image here (zoomable no less). How that got past anyone, even an algorithm, I don’t know.

The best online image I’ve found of this well known work is on the Elsewhere blog (which, incidentally, is an excellent art blog, for which I will issue a Timesink Warning).


One response to “Eye Candy for Today: Shishkin’s Mast Grove”

  1. I agree fully Charley. One of my favorites by a favorite painter. I really love the Russian landscape painters (of the same period) and find myself going back to them over and over.
    I have a couple bookmarked sites that also feature this painting in the same color correctness as this here, although smaller images than the Elsewhere blog you cited so thanks for that.
    Awe is right. The first time I saw it I looked at it for a long, long time and had trouble peeling my eyes away from it. For me that is a measure of a great painting, that I don’t tire of looking at it.