Józef Chełmoński visited Ukraine on the way back from Munich, in March 1874. Having arrived in Warsaw, he produced works regarded as excellent manifestations of realism in Polish painting: Indian Summer, Night Watchman, Autumn, Before Guests’ Departure in Ukraine, Case before the Community Leader and On a Farm. These paintings determined the range of subjects typical of this artist: a rural landscape showing the lives of peasantry and gentry. On a Farm depicts a scene from the life of the borderland landed gentry, set in a vast, sunny landscape. The painting impresses with the perfect sense of space, air and light. With the aim to convey the transience of the moment as well as the vitality and sensual charm of the Ukrainian landscape, Chełmoński emphasized the randomness of the composition. The characterization of the representatives of the borderland society: a stocky lady of the manor, a lord of the manor with a Sarmatian moustache, a grey-haired estate supervisor and a stable boy with broad, work-worn hands, reveals his keen observation and a sense of humour. However, the ordinary beauty of these figures did not earn Chełmoński recognition from Warsaw critics, who were not able to accept the realism of this work. The artist was accused of triviality, the lack of aesthetics and weirdness. The public was also shocked by his vivid, contrasting colours and a bold, vigorous way of painting, considered as technical imperfection resulting from the sloppy finish.


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