It isn’t hard to figure out that artist Boris Kustodiev is from Russia, as his paintings clearly reflect his love for his homeland.
Even though his father died, and he was brought up by his impoverished mother, she was able to send her son for art lessons and his talent was quickly noted. He traveled throughout Europe and spent one year in Switzerland receiving treatment for tuberculosis of the spine.
Kustodiev also provided illustration to many books and later in life did scenic and costume design for a number of theatrical productions. He also drew caricatures for several newspapers, and a good deal of his art consists of portraits.
In 1916, he became paraplegic. “Now my whole world is my room”, he wrote. His ability to remain joyful and lively despite his paralysis amazed others. His colourful paintings and joyful genre pieces do not reveal his physical suffering, and on the contrary give the impression of a carefree and cheerful life.
We often think of Russia as being populated with large people, but Kustodiev’s work is mostly full of average size people. Still quite a bit of his art features fat and/or large subjects, with some subjects straddling the line between sturdy and fat.
A number of his paintings feature a woman called the “Merchant’s wife”, a lovely fat woman, clearly enjoying life.