Stijn: “Russian landscape painting remains quite unknown in Western Europe and America, especially if compared with other pictorial movements like the Barbizon School in France (which had an important influence in the Russian landscape painting) or the Hudson River School in America. However, 19th century Russian painters introduced a very special, emotional style into the landscape genre.
Savrasov was one of the most important of the 19th century Russian landscape painters, considered the creator of the “lyrical landscape style”called later by critics the “mood landscape”. A truly emblematic work, “The rooks have returned” (or “The rooks have come back”) is Savrasov’s most famous painting, a lovely elegy to the spring announced by the return of the rooks.
The canvas shows Savrasov’s love for the rural Russian landscape, very influenced by John Constable.”
“Savrasov’s career was successful, but ended tragically:
In the late 1870s, he gradually became an alcoholic. The process may have begun with the death of his daughter in 1871, which led to a crisis in his art and, possibly, dissatisfaction with his artistic career. In 1882, he was dismissed from his position at the MSPSA. All attempts of his relatives and friends to help him were in vain.
His work suffered dramatically and the last years of his life were spent in poverty. He was usually drunk and often dressed in rags. Finally, he found himself wandering from shelter to shelter. Only the doorkeeper of the MSPSA and Pavel Tretyakov, founder of the Tretyakov Gallery, were present at his funeral in 1897.”