“I had three versions. In the process of working I set out more and more demands from the purely painterly side which would even out the form and content, the things which would give the painting social importance.” – Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin
At the time when the Russian Empire was suspended between two revolutions and was undergoing a radical social and political changes, emerging avant-garde artists were working on manifesting new modes of artistic expression. Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin synthesized both approaches when he painted Bathing of the Red Horse in 1912.
A simple plot, rounded lines, dominating intense red and clear bright colors in the background, and finally not quite mythological but rather a symbolic horse – made this work an icon of the Russian avant-garde. Consequently, this image would become not simply iconic but even prophetic after the Bolsheviks took over the Imperial government and transformed the Russian Empire into the USSR.
Petrov-Vodkin returned to the subject once again in 1925 with a painting titled Fantasia, where the boy on horseback is now flying over the mountains.
Bathing of the Red Horse is in the permanent collection of the Tretyakov State Gallery in Moscow.