Breakfast Time in Paintings by Russian Artists

Here is a twee collection of paintings by various Russian artists picturing break fast time in Russia of different periods, from 1918 through out to late 1970s. It provides some insights into an every day life of simple people and their meals on the go, before work, very low key and casual.

Naturemort: Morning. By Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, 1918.

Still life: Morning. By Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, 1918. Just like any where else in the world, eggs are pop­ular and the dog is hungry.

Just like many, Russians liked their eggs, bread and sausages — a hearty start of the day.  The brass item pictured is samovar — a metal water boiler which has been around for cen­turies. These samovars have always been popular as part of tea  making process — even nowadays you can find a modernized version of one in almost every house. It is also a popular wed ding gift and a traditional Russian souvenir, as it symbolizes hospitality and quality family time.

Naturemort: bread, eggs and a teapot; by Kalmykov. 1958.

Still life: bread, eggs and a teapot; by Nicholas Kalmykov. 1958.

Appar ently there is a concept of Russian Tea that exists in the West: strongly brewed black tea with a wheel of lemon and generous amounts of sugar. This sweet and sour concoction is indeed popular in Russia, how ever, nobody calls it “Russian tea”.  Just tea with lemon.

Tea party; by Popova. 1966.

Tea party; by Popova. 1966.

A cup of coffee; by Shumakova.

A cup of cof fee; by Elena Shumakova. Can’t go wrong with cheese and pastries!

In summer there were healthier alternatives available: freshly picked strawberries and cream in a jug would be enjoyed just like any where else in the world. Please note the fine lace of the table cloth — very popular in Russia of all times.

Berries and Cream; by Shumakova

Berries and Cream; by Elena Shumakova, 1983

Another country life illustration; please note a slighly different shape of the samovar. Also — bagels, extremely popular Russian wheat snack. Sugar cubes, a frequent substitute for regular sugar, which was hard to buy at times. A traditional tea glass, with an iron glass holder, an icon of those times and a well sought after collectible item now.

Naturemort: Samovar; by Shumakova.

Still Life: Samovar; by Elena Shumakova.

On the terrace; by Zhukovsky.

On the terrace; by Zhukovsky. Neat!

Naturemort: five eyed fried eggs; by Osmerkin, 1950.

Naturemort: five eyed fried eggs; by Osmerkin, 1950.

Another model of samovar and a more com mon break fast alto gether: eggs, but ter, bread.

Morning Tea and Flowers; by Grabar; 1939.

Morning Tea and Flowers; by Grabar; 1939.

To fin ish off, a few paint ings which do not exactly pic ture break fast times, but still appear very Russ ian and full of ambience.

February; by laktionov, 1956.

February; by A. Laktionov, 1956.

Alcohol-inspired paint ings tend to have lots of zest for life, too.

Naturemort: a teapot on the table; by Konchalovsky. 1946.

Still life: a Teapot on the Table; by P. Kon chalovsky. 1946.


Still life, name and year unknown, by Elena Shumakova.

Country Life (name of paper), by Bobrov. 1983.

Country Life (name of paper), by Bobrov. 1983.


16 thoughts on “Breakfast Time in Paintings by Russian Artists”

  1. Yeah, right. People were DEFINITELY able to afford all that stuff. Sure. Yeah. Oranges in 1956 winter? Those were consider as extreme delicacies even in 1970s and 1980s… These paintings are more like from science fiction (or communist fiction) than from real life.

  2. P.S. Although paintings seem to be proffesional, but try noticing the evolution of painting style from 1918 to 1980s. You can’t, because there isn’t one. Modern art was not suitable for “narod”, so was not allowed. This light form of impressionism was invented in Europe in mid 1800s and was consider completely outdated in 1900s…

    • Before October revolution, this style was also outdated in Russia. It made comeback because of need. Visit the art collection of the Russian Mus. in St. Pete. It will show full range of art over Russian history. CCCP did much to surpress much modern works.

  3. I wish I were visiting Russia today. I like the summer mornings with breakfast. Near Moscow in June, sun will rise very early. So at 7 AM bright daylight outside. Sit have black tea with lemon (no sugar) and breakfast. Many pleasant thoughts of visits… Morning in countryside… A very pleasent start of day on holiday…

    Flatware is set on table as in west. The paintings placement is part of composition. Flatware that is used and has food on it is placed on plate and not on the fine lace.

    The paintings miss cat laying nearby in sun.

  4. “February” is my favorite. It reminds me of my home in Fargo during the winter. All dead and white outside, but alive and vibrant inside. Thanks for this post, very nice.

  5. You forgot another great artist, Zinaida Serebryakova.

    Here’s a link to one of her best, called At Breakfast. I think this was painted after her soldier husband was deceased, and shows their children at the table.

    I wish I had the opportunity to learn at the St. Petersburg school back then, but I was born too late.

  6. I am wondering why Russian paintings many of which are by leading and famous artists of the 20th century, should be discussed in non-print four letter words? The comments from Uncle Sam should not really be allowed, and it is very pity that on the whole such an ignorance was shown about history and art…


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