1894, Bezhetsk (Tver Province) - 1971, Leningrad

Female Metro Builder with a Drill


  • oil on canvas. 205 х 130
  • Ж-7565

  • Received in 1961 from the artist, Leningrad

Construction of an underground rail system in the mid-1930s was an exciting new topic, discussed at length across the country and even lauded in popular songs. Samokhvalov long dreamt of depicting the female construction workers in a monumental mural, but his dreams never materialised. In 1937, he painted the oil painting Female Metro Builder with a Drill. This fresco-like portrait exudes strength, clarity, beauty, mental and physical health, inspiration, and aspiration. Alexander Deineka characterised the heroine of Female Metro Builder with a Drill as “like a goddess, yet nevertheless our own Russian gal.” Samokhvalov was clearly oriented towards classical art. The worker’s athletic figure, posture, crossed legs, and draping liken her to a Greek or Roman goddess. Working on his “underground workers” and focussing on frescoes, Samokhvalov passed through a period of interest in Michelangelo, whom he regarded as a “truly great revolutionary artist, whose works realised the ideal of democracy — a harmony of the power of the spirit and the power of the body.” The “new man” in the image of Soviet womanhood was a popular theme in the art of the 1930s.

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