A Meal at The Monistary

Vasily Perov was one of the original founding members of the Wanderers movement in pre-soviet Russia. His works centered around a new genre of art in Russia: Critical Realism. In his piece  Monastic Refectory we can see just how skeptic he was of Russian social structure and customs. Although he paints a lovely scene it is quite easy to see its true purpose.

In the painting Perov depicts a meal taking place in a Refectory. At this meal we can see three different levels of Russian society all in the same room however there means and situation greatly differ. As peasants beg on the floor the priests are drinking and gorging themselves at the table taking little notice to the starving masses on the floor. Perov also depicts the priests as fat and jovial. In the corner we can see one priest beckoning for another bottle only in what I assume to be a statement by Perov on the priests excess of alcohol.

On a close look there is also one more statement the artist leaves for us. In the top left corner we can see people obviously of the upper class. One priest is inviting them to the table however once you see their faces it is obvious they are not interested. I would even say they are disgusted to see what is going on. Is this a statement by Perov towards the fact that the upper class looked down upon the clergy? We may never fully know all his meaning in this piece but we do know it is an amazing work of art.