PANORAMA OF NIZHNY TAGIL FROM THE FOX MOUNTAIN. IN THE FOREGROUND THE SCENE OF THE FESTIVITIES
This work is a rare phenomenon in the Russian fine art of the first half of the XIX century, in particular: industrial, factory landscape.
The author of this painting Vasily Rayev (1808–1871), came from the serfs of Kushelev’s. In the early 1820s, he was sent to the famous private school of painting of academician in Stupin in the city of Arzamas. In 1839, after liberation from serfdom, Rayev was admitted to the class of landscape and perspective painting of academician M.N.Vorobyov at the Academy of Arts in St.Petersburg. Even before entering the Academy of Arts Rayev worked in St.Petersburg in the workshop of the war artist A.Ladurner and carried out orders of the Society for the promotion Of Arts. This attracted attention of the Chief Director of the Demidovs’ plants Danilov, who invited him to make a series of views of Ural plants, which at that time belonged to N.N.Demidov. Rayev stayed in the Urals for about a year and a half – from December of 1836 till summer of 1838. The artist's studio was located in Nizhny Tagil. Here he painted oil paintings from the sketches he made from nature during numerous trips to factories, copper, gold and platinum mines. Upon return to St.Petersburg in late 1838, all "Siberian paintings" were displayed at the exhibition at the Academy of Arts and were highly appraised. Currently, five of those works are in the collection of the Historical Museum. Three general views of Chernoistochinsky, Vyjsk and Nizhny Tagil factories and two factory interior. All works are signed and dated –1837 or 1838. This painting depicts the city of Nizhny Tagil, one of the largest mining centers of the Urals, which contemporaries called "the iron capital of the Demidovs." It was founded in the Tagil river valley near the mountain Vysokaya (High) in the 1720s by Akinfij Demidov, the son of the famous Tula blacksmith, who was commissioned by Peter I to create first metallurgical plants in the Urals. Iron processing and iron foundry were built at the foot of the Vysokaya (High) mountain, immediately behind the dam, blocking the Tagil River. Panoramic view of the city-plant is made by the artist from a high place on mountain Lisya (Fox), in the vicinity of which were usually arranged festivities. Special attention of the viewer is attracted by colorful folk costumes of women. Rayev noted in his memoirs: "All dressed elegantly, on a holiday in the Church or at a party in Stoff or brocade “sarafans” (sundresses). The headdress is high, the rich have it embroidered with pearls, and the headdress is covered with a transparent veil." Among the working people in Nizhny Tagil were a lot of old believers who have long preserved commitment to Russian antiquity in their everyday life and appearance.