The Painting Fedotov “Matchmaking Major”

The founder of critical realism in the Russian fine arts PA Fedotov (1815-1852) introduced drama and plot sharpness into the everyday genre. In his works, the artist managed to combine the exposure of social and moral vices of society’s life with subtle psychologism and a poetic perception of reality.

In the painting “Matchmaking Major” the action is played out in front of the viewer as a tie of comedy. The house of the merchant is a fat woman. Modest living room environment does not even hint at the true size of the owner’s wealth. “Capital – a hidden business” – the golden rule of the merchant class.

Everything is ready to meet the long-awaited guest – the groom-nobleman. The maid finishes laying the table, the bride wore a very decollete ball gown, not corresponding to a deliberately boring atmosphere, jewels glittering on her hands and neck. Dressed in accordance with the solemn occasion and her parents. Fedotov showed not the matchmaking, but the moment preceding him. Matchmaker, who entered the room, informed the owners that the applicant had reached the hand of the girl. He appeared in full... parade, wishing to make a “right” impression on future relatives.

The arrival of the brave major led to the excitement of the inhabitants of the house. Every person in the room responds in his own way to the words of the matchmaker: a young coquette tries to slip out of the room, showing modesty, but the mother has time to grab her by the dress; they are closely watched by the cook, placing snacks on the table, behind her two family members are whispering; the father of the family hastens to go out to meet the guest. And only the cat in the foreground remains indifferent to what is happening.

In this work you can clearly see the use of the favorite method of the author – the contrast of movements (hidden and explicit). In other words, a brief instant from a kaleidoscope of rapidly changing events is caught on the canvas, but the viewer knows what will happen in the next moment. In this composition, there is a certain amount of theatricality, through which the artist emphasizes the falsehood and false shine of what is happening.


The Painting Fedotov “Matchmaking Major”