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Vasily Dmitrievich Polenov came from a noble large family. His mother was a children's writer and drew well - it was she who gave her son the first lessons in painting. The most vivid impressions of the artist’s childhood are connected with trips to the north and to his grandmother’s estate. Later, he reflected some early memories in his paintings. It was the grandmother, Vera Voeikova, that shaped the taste of the boy. She told children tales, recited poems by heart, and understood Russian mythology, folk tales and legends. Polenov’s talent turned out to be multifaceted - as a student of the Academy, he attended not only drawing lessons, but also singing and music lessons, lectures on anatomy, history, geometry, studied architecture and construction. Getting older, the artist traveled a lot. He was especially attracted to places somehow connected with the history of Christianity.
The painting The patient is basically a real story. While in Rome, Vasily Dmitrievich met with a student from Russia Elizabeth Boguslavskaya. Later, Lisa caught a cold and became ill. An innocent disease quickly turned into tuberculosis, and soon the girl died. Elizabeth posed for the artist during her lifetime, lying in bed. Her death deeply shocked Polenova. Literally after this, another person close to the artist dies - Marusya Obolenskaya, with whom he was in love. Under the influence of the two deaths, the artist painted a dark, almost black, incredibly tragic canvas, in the process of which he lost his twin sister and newborn son. Looking at it, the viewer physically feels the feelings of the author - the thickening gloom of loss, the terrible powerlessness before death, the inevitability of what is happening.
The tragic approach of a sad outcome is felt in every oil smear. The bluish darkness enveloping the thin figure of the girl, as if by smoke, the haggard face hardened and frightened by the patient, huge sparkling eyes. If you look closely, in the depths of the picture in a host of shadows you can see the mournfully bowed figure of a woman - perhaps this is the girl’s mother, and, possibly, Death itself.
The girl looks at the lighted lamp, as if not wanting the light of life to leave her. Covered with a green lampshade, the lamp casts warm shadows on the bed and on the table. The still life, illuminated by yellow light, gradually attracts the attention of the viewer. Shabby, read books, which the heroine probably flipped through during illness; muddy carafe and a glass of water; blood-red, as if a ragged tablecloth. The work is done with wide, uneven strokes; it may seem that it is unfinished. In fact, the painting was written for a long thirteen years - Polenov returned to him in moments of deepest grief, splashing the pain of his losses onto the canvas. Truly, this is the darkest and most sad work in the work of the artist.