When I was in the Tretyakov Gallery, I stood for a long time before Perov’s picture “The Three”. And each time a double feeling embraces me: on the one hand, I enjoy the skill of the artist, his ability to convey the everyday scene. On the other hand, I view the painting as a mirror, reflecting its time – terrible, cruel, unmerciful even to children.
Dusk. Three children are dragging a heavy barrel of water. Cold. The barrel was icy, it became even heavier. A sharp wind blows into the faces of the children. The thin clothes do not save from the severe frost. Hard work does not warm.
Involuntarily there is an idea: what should be the ruthless heart of the master, who sent these frozen children to the river with a heavy barrel. An outsider, a passer-by, as miserable as these children, tries to help them, leaning on his shoulder, pushes their excessively heavy load. Children resemble the old horses. And when they managed to work out? They are so small.
Involuntarily a protest is raised in the soul against a life in which such injustice exists. Under the feet of children lies a lonely twig, as homeless as they are. She tore herself away from her native tree, like they were from my father’s house.
The picture is sustained in brown-gray tones. The gloomy monastery wall, along which the children’s path lies, emphasizes its gloominess. I want to help children to reach home, to heat. It is unbearable to see their anguish and despair.
The peculiarity of the classics is that it also touches the soul in a hundred years, as it was at that time. This picture, of course, is our artistic classic.