NORDSCI Conference proceedings 2021, Book 1

Sociology and Healthcare

TEA PARTIES IN RUSSIAN PAINTING IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE NINETEENTH – BEGINNING OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY: REFLECTIONS OF EVERYDAY LIFE AND SOCIAL HISTORY

Prof. Dr. Irina Rutsinskaya, Assoc Prof. Dr. Galina Smirnova

ABSTRACT

Tea in Russia is not only the drink loved by millions of people but also a national symbol closely and inseparably connected with Russian culture. The dominance of realism in Russian fine art in the second half of the nineteenth – beginning of the twentieth century gave birth to the widespread popularity of genre painting which started playing a very special role in the country. It is not surprising that tea parties became common themes in these works. Over a cup of tea, the characters in the paintings perform everyday activities: chatting, contemplating, indulging in memories, while taking the opportunity to enjoy their favourite drink.
Paintings are a unique and rarely used source for social history and culture studies as they allow us not only to reconstruct the everyday life of past eras, but also to study how contemporaries saw, perceived, and evaluated a variety of everyday practices. The research undertaken is descriptive and analytical with reference to the principles of historicism, academic reliability and objectivity that help to determine important trends and patterns and characterize the various social phenomena and developments that took place in Russia during the period under study. Unlike Western European painting, the representation of tea ceremonies on the canvases of Russian artists romanticizes both the philosophical aspect and the harmonizing function of the ceremony, but at the same time focuses attention on social issues, which obviously reflects the specifics of national consciousness.
The present research is based on the analysis of eighty-two genre painting works by Russian artists (among them there are the well-known ones by: Ivan Bogdanov, Vasiiy Makovsky, Konstantin Makovsky, Vasily Perov, Konnstantin Korovin, etc.). They not only provide the audience with information about different aspects of everyday culture in Russia from the second half of the nineteenth to the beginning of the twentieth century but also trace the trends in the development of public consciousness and help to determine the main social problems that characterize the historical period and the attitude of society to them. The process of the democratization of society in the second half of the nineteenth century is reflected in the depiction of the ambiguous relationship between society and the church. The canvases draw attention to the place of tradition in the life of an individual and a family, the changing social role of the nobility which exemplifies the passing era, increasing interest in the way of life of the intelligentsia, and creating the image of the merchant as a new social class with a specific culture. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the nostalgic description of the tea party as a symbol of a bygone era of prosperity and a lost past prevails.

KEYWORDS

social history of Russia, Russian fine arts of the second half of the nineteenth – beginning of the twentieth century, tea party, Russian nobility, Russian merchant.

REFERENCE

NORDSCI International Conference 2021, Book 1, Conference Proceedings, ISSN 2603-4123, ISBN 978-619-7495-14-16, TEA PARTIES IN RUSSIAN PAINTING IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE NINETEENTH – BEGINNING OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY: REFLECTIONS OF EVERYDAY LIFE AND SOCIAL HISTORY, 375-383 pp, DOI paper 10.32008/NORDSCI2021/B1/V4/33