– Añada 2015 –

Alexandre Laktionov
Letter from the Front (1951)

At the 1946 USSR Art Expo, the first version of this painting by Alexander Laktionov (1910-1962) was, without exaggeration, a resounding success. Crowds gathered in front of the canvas, often obstructing the passage. Some just looked, others couldn’t hold their tears. A terrible war had ended the year before, leaving no Russian unaffected. Memories of long-awaited triangle-shaped letters from frontline soldiers, carefully read and cherished, were still fresh.

Laktionov’s first postgraduate work, the painting was inspired by a scene the artist had witnessed first-hand: a soldier returning from the front delivered a precious triangle-shaped letter from her loved one to a woman whose face lit up on the news. For his painting, Laktionov chose people he knew as his models: the soldier-‘postman’ was his neighbour who had fought at the front; the woman with the envelope – the sister of the artist’s mother Evdokiya; the children – his son Seryozha and daughter Svetlana. The most luminous character in the painting is the girl with a red bandage – the Laktionov’s’ neighbour. Filled with sunlight and warmth, the painting tells the viewer that there is a place for happiness even in the most difficult times.

Letter from the Front was universally loved: the artist was showered with collective and individual praise, congratulatory calls and telegrams from friends, relatives, acquaintances and perfect strangers. Following the exhibition, Laktionov received orders for artist’s multiples of Letter from the Front from a number of museums in the USSR and other countries. The painting was included in school textbooks, calendars and popular magazines. The nationwide acclaim culminated in the Stalin Prize awarded to Laktionov by the Soviet government.

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