Vasily Polenov often addressed the motif of an old estate park, expressing his romantic disposition and generalising his own impressions of life. The young woman sitting on the bench in this particular work – the artist’s sister, Vera Khruscheva (1844–1881) – is immersed in reflections. Her figure lends an elegiac mood and emotional depth to the landscape. In comparison with Polenov’s landscapes of the early 1870s, Overgrown Pond has a well-organised space, in which the sunlit path leading from the depths of the park plays an important role. The contrasts between the light and shaded sections of the park lend an enigmatic air to the landscape.
This painting was typical of the Russian landscapes of the 1870s, in which the genre took second stage to the landscape. The artist offers a poetic interpretation of the small corner of an old estate. The solitary female figure in the depths of the park intensifies the mood of romanticism. This is one of the finest landscapes in Polenov’s art of the turn of the 1870s and 1880s.