It’s a watercolor painting of a water-soaked world. Two men have stopped to talk. There is a wagon ahead of them, just seen. The horses stand patiently around them, waiting. The sky is full of clouds. The falling rain creates a sheen on the horses’ coats, the men’s clothes and the road they are standing on. The figures of horses, men and wagon puddle into and are reflected delicately on the water-covered roadway. The ditch beside the road is full of water, and the rest of the landscape fades away into the distance, into the rain.
It is almost as if we are looking at them through a rain-covered window. There’s a translucence to the whole painting, a delicacy, a fragility. Men and horses are gathered into a group, sketched in with just enough detail to bring them to life for us. We look at them and wonder – what was so important, that these men stopped to talk in these kinds of conditions?
The artist is Gregor von Bochmann. Though he spent most of his life in Germany, he was born in Estonia and as a child he spent time traveling through the countryside there with his German father. What he saw must have touched him – one of the common themes of his work was scenes such as this of life in Estonia. It was a way of life as fragile as that watercolor painting and one that was changing during his lifetime, as the Russians tried to re-create Estonia in their own image.
Perhaps he was capturing a moment he saw and wanted to share, perhaps recording a memory. Certainly he has given us a beautiful glimpse into a small water colored world.