Vasily Perov was an avid hunter, so the topic of hunting in his works is very common. Such canvases with speaking names like “Fisherman”, “Golubyatnik”, “Bird-eaters”, “Hunters in Halt” became the artist’s trademark.
The plot of the picture takes its origins from real life, in the times of the artist the hunt was very popular: three men stopped to rest after a very successful hunt. To judge their success, we can look at the lower left corner of the canvas, where we will see a pair of ducks and a hare. Heavy, leaden sky, yellow, dry grass and warm frock coats on hunters show us that late autumn is in the yard.
The artist with a bright light focuses on the faces and hands of the characters of the canvas. An aged man, apparently an experienced hunter, is vividly and passionately telling something to his friends. From his facial expression and body posture, one can judge that his story is most likely about a curiosity or a case of a hunt. The young hunter on the contrary very carefully and seriously listens to the “mentor.” But a middle-aged man, who is located to the left of the narrator, clearly does not hide his distrust of the speeches of his friend, and ironically.
Behind the usual, seemingly everyday plot of the painting, Vasily Perov hides symbolism and deep meaning. On the canvas, he confronts the three stages of life of each person. The symbol of old age is depicted in an elderly hunter who lives in the past, memories. Youth is in a naive young man who takes everything at face value, and maturity is a middle-aged man who relies only on his experience and strength.
An interesting fact is that each character in Perov’s painting “Hunters in Halt” has a real prototype, also great lovers of hunting, the artist’s friends: D. P. Kuvshinnikov, V. V. Bessonov, and N. M. Nagornov.