Povitukha: Russian Peasants Ivan Sevastyanov/Leon Gaspard: “Colour is the liberating element”

I’ve been transported to Russia via nesting dolls, etc. See: here and here. So I decided to stick with a Russian theme, which is so interesting and educational.

This is a painting of a Russian peasant woman, a povitukha.  She is wearing the traditional Russian folk costume:  high boots, embroidered blouse, a red headpiece.  Standing up straight, she appears to be a strong and powerful person.  During and prior to the nineteenth century, povitukhas (peasant midwives) were such highly honored individuals in their societies.  These folk healers could only be older experienced women, such as the one pictured here.

Artist:  Ivan Sevastyanov (b1920)

Title:  Peasant Woman.

Gaspard, Leon (1882-1964) – 1922 Russian Market Scene (Private Collection)

The individuality and strong character of Leon Gaspard are expressed in his remarkable paintings, which span continents and decades. Born in Vitebsk, Russia, Gaspard accompanied his father on fur trades to Asia. This exposure to colourful and exotic cultures would influence of his work throughout his life.

Gaspard’s artistic studies began in Vitebsk and were followed by further study in Odessa and at the Academy of Moscow. He travelled to Paris in 1901 to study with Adolphe Bouguereau and Edouard Toudouze at the Académie Julian. There he met his future wife, Evelyn Adell, an American ballet student.

Their unusual honeymoon, a two-year pack trip through the Siberian wilderness, allowed Gaspard to create hundreds of sketches. These sketches, as well as others made on his later travels throughout Asia, Europe, North Africa and America, became the foundation for his finished paintings.

Gaspard’s highly successful Parisian career was interrupted by World War I, when he flew with the French Air Corps as an aerial observer. His plane was shot down, and Gaspard was badly injured. His wife’s family arranged for him to come to New York to recuperate. In 1919 the Gaspards moved to Taos, seeking a more beneficial climate. The native cultures of the Southwest reminded Gaspard of his beloved homeland. Though they continued to travel, the Gaspards made Taos their permanent home in 1924.

Gaspard’s paintings are anomalous among the work of the Taos painters since they have many cultures from many lands as their theme. His paintings combine the clear, bright colours associated with impressionism and the influences of more modern and interpretive representation. Gaspard’s vibrant paintings, filled with movement and rendered in brilliant colours, form a historic legacy of cultures from around the world. h/t RasMarley I spent a lot of time adding links to very interesting places named and thus really look forward to reading contents therein in depth and learning a lot.

Here is more from the same artist. Gaspard, Leon (1882-1964) – 1922 Siberian Cossack Girl (Christie’s Beverly Hills, 2008) I can’t help but notice that all the women and children are wearing head-scarves.

I’m off to find out more about the Cossacks. I associate them with the army and Russian dancing. Good old Wiki says: ‘Cossacks are a group of predominantly East Slavic people who originally were members of democratic, semi-military communities in Ukraine and Southern Russia.

They inhabited sparsely populated areas and islands in the lower Dnieper and Don basins, and played an important role in the historical development of both Ukraine and Russia. Wiki says at the bottom of the page.

Modern Day Russian Cossack Identity

An ethnic Buryat new Cossack receives blessing from his BuddhistLama during a Cossack initiation ceremony in Chita, in Siberia. Unlike in Ukraine, where the issue of Cossack status and identity seems to have been resolved, in modern Russia, the question of “Who is a Cossack?” can and does create major controversies. There are ethnic or “born” (prirodnye) Cossacks, those trace or, at least, claim to trace their direct ancestry to Cossacks of the old, Tsarist era. These are mainly Orthodox Christian people, who consider themselves to be Slavic. Others, however, who are not “born” Cossacks, can become Cossacks through initiation. They are not necessarily Slavic or Christian. For example, since 2004, in the city of Perm functioned modern Russia’s first Muslim Cossack unit.[74]

Revival of Cossacks Casts Muslim Group Out of … – Washington Post

Not everyone agrees that “initiated” Cossacks should be considered Cossacks at all. Nor is there consensus on what is considered a proper form of initiation.

There are people who simply put on a Cossack uniform and, essentially, pretend to be Cossacks, perhaps because there is a large ethnic Cossack population in their area and it is more convenient to try to fit in; or because that is simply a popular fad at the moment. Such individuals tend to be scoffed at by “real” Cossacks and referred to as ‘ryazhenye’ (‘dressed up phonies’).[75]

Because of the controversies surrounding the identity issue, true population numbers of Cossacks in Russia still cannot be worked out. There are said to be 7 million people in Russia who consider themselves ethnic Cossacks.[76] Most Cossack leaders estimate the number of ethnic Cossacks as between 2.5 and 4 million.’

The Pink Babushka – by Leon Shulman Gaspard (1921)


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