Morning in Pine Forest by Ivan Shishkin and Konstantin Savitsky

Morning in Pine Forest by Ivan Shishkin and Konstantin Savitsky

A serene, beautiful pine forest, covered with cool dews. The thickets of the forest cover the entire land from the sun, except for that one part where the trees diverge, creating an open space filled with sunlight. The painting Morning in Pine Forest by Ivan Shishkin and Konstantin Savitsky shows just that. And to make it more serene, there are three bear cubs and their mother, playing and enjoying the morning. 

Ivan Shishkin was one of Russia’s most popular painters, part of the Wanderers created by Ivan Ramskoy. Shishkin mastered the art of painting the natural world. He was Russia’s most famous landscape painter and this painting is a testament to that. Look at the detailing on the trees, the leaves, the bushes, and the thickets. 

When painting landscapes, usually the center subject is highlighted while the peripherals parts (such as the leaves in the corner) are often blotches of paint made to look like leaves. That is not the case here. On the bottom-left corner of the canvas, one can see how beautifully Shishkin has painted the moss growing on the fallen log of wood. But there’s more. 

Move your gaze from the left to the right part of the painting. Notice how the tone of the color shifts from bluish-green to reddish-brown. This is done to show the vastness and denseness of the forest. But at the same time, it creates an open space for the scene to be painted. The effects give a natural look to it and do not make it look like the artist manipulated the true nature of the forest. 

The forest or the bears?

A highly debated question about this painting is whether the subject of the painting is the forest or the four bears in the center of the canvas. Usually, when analyzing a painting, the subject of the painting is placed in the center of it. And by that rule, the bears should be the subject. 

But the meaning of the painting is completely different. After analyzing it, we can clearly state that the subject of the painting is not the bear and not the forest as well. Remember Shishkin was painting a landscape, not forest or animals. So why should we consider the bears apart from the forest? The absence of the bears would be an anomaly. 

Imagine a painting of the streets or the market and there is not a single human in the frame. Wouldn’t that be weird? The absence of humans from their habitat would be the subject of the painting then, not their presence. Their presence completes the scene. The same is the case for this painting. The bears complete the landscape of a thick pine forest.

Another great effect created by Shishkin is the distant trees in the background, placed at the center of the canvas. That massive open space gives vastness to the forest. There are tall trees in the background, as far as eyes can see. And the color sunlight gives them makes the scene even more beautiful. 

What this painting makes you feel 

The painting is about life beyond the cities, towns, and villages. The painting takes you into the middle of the forest and overwhelms you with the sheer size of it. When one imagines a forest, one thinks of trees and animals. But hardly anyone comprehends the massive size of it. Morning in Pine Forest sends you to this world, an unknown world that everyone has an imagination for, but hardly any real experience. 

the sketch for Morning in Pine Forest
The Sketch for Morning in Pine Forest. Image: Public Domain

About the painting Morning in Pine Forest 

The painting was created in the year 1886 and was created by two painters; Ivan Shishkin and Konstantin Savitsky. It was presumed that since Shishkin was not good with painting animals, it was Savitsky who painted the bears. But earlier sketches of the painting show that Savitsky actively participated in creating the landscape as well. 

The art collector Pavel Tretyakov removed the signature of Savitsky from the canvas because to him, the bears and the forest are purely showcasing the artistic style of Shishkin. This brings us to the price of the painting.

The painting was (and is) in the possession of art collector Pavel Tretyakov. The price of the painting was not disclosed but it sits at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. Although the price was not revealed, it can be assumed that the painting’s price is over $1 million. 

The painting’s medium is oil on canvas. While not confirmed, it is assumed that Shishkin took inspiration from one of the forests in Gorodomlya islands in Lake Seliger, Russia. There are also hundreds of different versions of this painting created by various artists. This concludes the article. But here are some more related articles that you’ll definitely find interesting to read.