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French artist Jules Bastien-Lepage is the brightest representative of naturalism. Being himself a native of Lorraine peasants, most often in his paintings he depicted rural life. In his youth, Bastien-Lepage went through the German-French war and returned to his homeland with a severe wound. Despite the disease that was eating him up (the artist died of cancer at age 36) he traveled a lot, including visiting England and Algeria. These trips gave new trends to his work. Despite the short time allotted to him, the artist had a great influence on European painting, and on many Russian artists too. V. Serov admitted that every Sunday he goes to the Tretyakov Gallery to watch the Village Love displayed there.
Bastien-Lepage worked a lot in kind. Even his portrait works were most often performed in the open air - the artist believed that in this way faces are more natural, skin tones are more lively. He skillfully and subtly conveyed the features and shades of the sky at different times of the year, overflows of color of foliage and grass, earthy texture.
Many paintings of the author depict peasant labor - but even in hard work, the artist finds a kind of poetics. Being partially academic, the paintings by Bastien-Lepage, nevertheless, brought a fresh stream to the atmosphere of the Paris Art Salon. In most cases, the artist combined landscape and portrait on one canvas, giving them romantic and even sentimental features; the clean and natural colors that the artist loved make many of his works look like photographs or copies from photographs.
Painting Village Love is one of the most successful works of the author. The picture shows a couple in love - a guy and a girl. Plots of land belonging to their families appear to be located nearby, being separated by a wooden fence. It was at this old fence that the lovers met, and now they talk sweetly, embarrassed and delighted by this, most likely, not completely random meeting. The guy, dropping his eyes, timidly looks for a topic for conversation; the girl shyly fiddles with the flower he presented. Her thin pigtails, a slightly stooped back, covered with a gray blouse, a long brown skirt, neat little shoes - everything is incredibly decent and cute. Apparently, she just took off her handkerchief and hung it on the fence to make her darling seem prettier. The young man shyly examines his hands; he is wearing a craftsman’s clothing, a special apron protects his pants. He leaned slightly to be the same height as the girl. An idyllic picture of nature completes the scene. The dark silhouette of a church in the distance, lovingly painted peasant buildings, bright orange flowers of nasturtium, bowed at the feet of lovers. The soft and pleasant coloring of the work creates a feeling of deep sincere feelings.
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