Celebrating New Year’s Eve with Konstantin Somov
My 2019 Art Calendar is ready to take its place on the bookcase in our entryway hall. That way, it is the last thing that I see when I leave home and the first thing that welcomes me back. My 2018 Art Calendar has been a trusty companion these past 365 days, so it is only fitting that I finish with the last painting of 2018.
Actress on Stage (aka La Petite Langue de Colombine) came into being in 1915 by the Russian artist, Konstantin Andreyevich Somov. It is a watercolour, gouache on cardboard. You may be wondering – as I was – what is gouache? In my search, I found that gouache is a type of water-media that has a history dating back over 600 years. It is a paint consisting of natural pigment, water, and a binding agent such as dextrin. Like watercolour, it can re-wetted but has been modified to be opaque, which is brilliantly displayed in this vibrant scene full of festivities.
The fireworks against a sapphire blue background, harlequin colours and fancy mask reminiscent of Venice’s carnival invite us to enter the celebrations. The young woman is moving forward with a smile and eyes fixed on us, her arm outstretched to balance herself. Behind her are other revellers and beside her a lamp to light the path surrounded by flowers. It is a perfect ending to 2018.
Konstatin Somov was one of the artists who, in 1899, founded Mir iskusstva (World of Art), a Russian magazine that would inspire and influence an artistic movement within Russia.
One painting leads to many stories and avenues of exploration.
Welcome to 2019! We are on a grand adventure.