Alexei Kharlamov (1840-1925) was born into a large serf family, which later freed from serfdom and became a bourgeoisie.
Unfortunately, no detailed information has been preserved about his childhood and youth, so it is difficult to say thanks to what fateful events Kharlamov became a free student in the historical class of the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts at the age of 14. He studied with Professor Markova. During his studies he received many awards, including both silver and gold medals.
In 1868 he received the right to an artistic retirement trip from the Academy of Arts and was sent to Germany, then for some time the artist lived in Paris, and two years later during the Franco-Prussian War with OP Bogolyubov and KF Gunom went to Belgium.
In 1871 he settled in The Hague, where he continued to study his favorite “Old Masters” Rembrandt and Velazquez. A year later, O. Kharlamov returned to Paris and set himself the goal of gaining the attention of the public of the recognized European capital of art. O. Kharlamov went as a student to the studio of the then famous French artist Leon Bonn, a recognized master of children’s images, from which he adopted and improved the technique and themes of his favorite children’s and girls’ images. This brought him the resounding popularity of the successful artist of the French Salon.
O. Kharlamov’s success often irritated his compatriots, they often criticized the “salonness” of his painting. But with the same force they admired such contemporaries as E. Zola, O. Bogolyubov, I. Turgenev, P. Viardo and many others.
O. Kharlamov often resorted to painting portraits of little girls or chamber scenes with children. This is exactly the picture “In the cradle”. This plot is quite common in the artist’s work. It describes a children’s world full of joys and worries, games and children’s relationships with each other.
In this canvas O. Kharlamov depicts the care of the eldest child for the youngest, sleeping in a cradle. In performing such scenes, the artist saw an opportunity to try to get closer to the painting techniques of Dutch masters, including Rembrandt.
Indeed, like the great Dutchman, the Russian artist placed his little heroes in deliberately dark interiors so that they, their clothes, some surrounding objects, or sometimes even the walls seemed to “emit” light. Reflecting penetrating light, all these details contrast with the dark unlit areas of the interior, which gives the picture an effect of “classicism”, as if the picture was painted two centuries earlier, at the dawn of the art of old masters.
Kharlamov always sought to convey the world of feelings to young children. Their faces sometimes show sadness, awe, sometimes a slight fright or, conversely, pranks and coquetry. Looking at children’s images, the viewer hopes to learn more about their inner world, but soon catches himself thinking that to understand them to the end still can not, because the most secret they still hid deep inside.
O. Kharlamov’s work includes all the classic themes of genre painting. The artist often portrayed young seamstresses and craftswomen, returning to this theme throughout his career. He was always attracted by the image of a girl absorbed in her work.
O. Kharlamov painted the painting “Little Seamstress” with free strokes, most clearly expressed in decorative details, which is a characteristic feature of the artist’s works from the beginning of the century.
At the turn of the century Kharlamov gradually moved away from his “classic” brown color. In his paintings, he began to depict his models not on a dark contrasting background, but, on the contrary, in a light environment.
Placed in a light-filled rural interior, the girl most likely posed in the then famous for many artists French suburb. Beginning in the 1860s and then regularly after 1872, the Russian Society of Artists traveled from Paris for the summer to the countryside of Voulle-les-Roses. This popular seaside resort near Normandy attracted both painters and poets and often inspired paintings such as the landscapes of V. Polenov and I. Repin. O. Kharlamov liked the surroundings of Vul-les-Roses, and he even bought a house there with a huge workshop, in which, apparently, worked on this portrait.
It is difficult to determine the style of OO Харламова. His works clearly express a commitment to balanced compositional solutions and strict drawing inherent in the “old masters”, as well as they combine the features of realism, romanticism and sentimentality. O. Kharlamov painted many portraits of young girls, creating eternally attractive images of innocence and youth, which became a distinctive feature of the plots of “Kharlamov” painting.