Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Bathing of a Red Horse (1912) Painting Poster

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Please note, we also sell a framed version of this poster here on RUS & SOV.

About the Painting

Bathing of a Red Horse (Russian: Купание красного коня) is a gorgeous 1912 painting by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin. It is one of the most famous Russian painting of the early 20th century and has become a symbol of the impending disasters looming over the country.

When Petrov-Vodkin first exhibited this special painting, many saw it as representing the idea that could reconcile the old and the new during a time of great cultural changes. Bathing of a Red Horse captured the Russian art world's mind with its organic combination of various artistic traditions: ancient Russian icon art, monumental Renaissance frescoes, as well as more recent styles of coloring. Today it is regarded as a neoclassical masterpiece of the early 20th century, a symbolic image of harmony emerging in the struggle of opposing principles: spirit and matter, intellect and vital energy, traditional and new. Harmonious balance, balancing on the edge of an abyss…

The space of the picture is organized in such a way that, thanks to its high horizon line outside the composition itself, it rises and extends up to the viewer. At the same time, the picture’s depth does not disappear: the viewer feels it due to the large-scale reduction of the supporting figures. In such a way, Petrov-Vodkin seems to be polemicizing with impressionistic painting, under the charms of which many artists were at this time remaining aloof, instead espousing cubist and futurist methods. There is definitely something of Russian iconography in this painting, what with the playful use of non-realist horizon lines and depth. Actually, the beauty of Russian icon paintings was being rediscovered just at the beginning of the 1910s, as restorers began to free ancient icons from their blackened veils of darkened, drying oil.

Another feature of Bathing of a Red Horse is characteristic of the entire work of Petrov-Vodkin: despite the fact that the plot of the work is deliberately domestic (bathing a horse), it does not contain a story about the event. And although the plot is quite obvious, the painter manages to raise it to some kind of ideal image. One of the techniques with which he achieves his goal is the interpretation of color, primarily of the main figure (the red horse). Figures of red horses often came up in traditional Russian iconography. The clearly felt pathos of this picture, the expression of spirituality as a deeply inner state, make it the embodiment of the national Russian worldview.

They say that in 1914, when the First World War broke out, Petrov-Vodkin exclaimed:

"So that's why I wrote Bathing the Red Horse!"

«Так вот почему я написал «Купание красного коня»!

Of course, there then followed two revolutions, a civil war, and Bolshevik terror.

Original Painting

Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Bathing of a Red Horse (1912) Painting

Poster Quality

Museum-quality posters made on thick and durable matte paper. Add a wonderful accent to your room and office with these posters that are sure to brighten any environment.

Please note, all poster sizes are in inches (1 inch = 2.54 cm). 

• Paper thickness: 10.3 mil
• Paper weight: 5.57 oz/y² (189 g/m²)
• Giclée printing quality
• Opacity: 94%

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