Vasily Polenov is a realist artist. The canvas "The Right of the Master" was created in 1874. The storage location is the State Tretyakov Gallery. The plot of the painting was based on the medieval right of the feudal lord to spend the first night with all the girls who decided to marry in his possessions. A similar right existed in France, Scotland and England. In Russia, he was also known.
On the eve of the wedding, the feudal lord had the right to come to the bride and spend the first wedding night with her. If after that the girl found herself in a position, the child was recognized as the heir to her actual husband, but if the feudal lord did not have children, he could be recognized as his heir. It should be noted that the existence of the right of the first night was not a whim of the higher nobility. Such a right was an urgent need for those whose lives could be interrupted at any time due to infection with a plague disease, leprosy, smallpox, wounding in battle, poisoning, or an accident. The death of the feudal lord, who did not leave a legitimate heir, could have unpleasant consequences for his vassals.
We did not have to talk about justice and the moral side of the issue.
Not knowing the history of this custom, it is difficult to assume that the action taking place on the canvas is not an ordinary courtesy visit. The central place in the picture is reserved for three young girls and an elderly old man, frozen on the threshold of the house in front of a richly dressed man.
The eyes of youth are downcast, the man’s back is hunched over, his stern face is mottled with wrinkles, and a mask of suffering is on him. Girls are dressed in modest dark clothes, their hands are crossed on their chest or waist, they clearly do not feel like being in this setting, they try not to look at the man. The latter, meanwhile, is not at all embarrassed by his position, his hands rest on his hips, his gaze is stern and piercing, satisfaction and even joy are read in it. Its high position is emphasized by an expensive camisole, hat and white hound dog, carefully peering at unexpected guests.
The background of the painting is a typical medieval castle with turrets, arched entrances, knights at the gates and servants scurrying around. The picture is painted in bright oil paints, but despite this it is rather gloomy, which makes the viewer carefully peer into each of the details of its components.
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