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статьиVasily Koroteyev

Василий Коротеев. Двое, 1920-е

The story of how he ended up in the orphanage is connected with one manifestation of the strange, inexplicable gift of foresight, presentiment and even a certain ability to influence the course of future events that accompanied the artist throughout his entire life: once, while with the crew of lads (kompaniya shketov) as the vagrants referred to themselves, he passed by the fence of an old city manor (or mansion) with a broad staircase, high columns and large windows. The house exuded antiquity, wealth and peace; but most importantly, it was a home, that which a vagabond lacks most. At this time, the young adventure-seeker was hardly distinguishable from the other tramps that banded together in the gang. One sleeve of his ragged overcoat just barely hung on by several threads. The youth pulled at it – it didn’t take much to completely tear off the sleeve – and, putting on a show in front of his comrades, threw it over the fence. “I will live in this house,” he said. His words quickly and exactly came true: the mansion was made into an orphanage, the very one where Vasily Koroteev wound up after a short time.

Similar things were constantly taking place. Once many years later, after the war, when Moscow was living on food cards, it came to pass that after coming home he found that some of these cards had disappeared. His wife froze in horror because losing the cards meant hunger. Anticipating everything that could but did not need to be voiced, he quickly said “I’ll find it right now.” He put on his coat and left. Not fifteen hours had gone by when he returned. The cards were in his hand. Something similar took place several years later, in the early fifties. His family was going through a difficult period with no money and the New Year came along: fir trees were everywhere with colored lamps shining on them and silver threads of rain were sparkling… Koroteev’s daughter Nadya recalled how she and her father walked together along the street and everything around them was alive with the approach of this holiday that is a joyous one for all, but for children most of all. She recalled how it was upsetting to the point of tears, how she almost cried because of the fact that they couldn’t purchase a tree, that the holiday wasn’t as it should be. Upon noticing how distraught his daughter was, Vasily Andreevich took her mittened hand and said “Don’t be upset, there’s no need for that, you and I will find some money.” And, need we even say, they had only gone several steps further when they noticed some colorful slips of paper in the snow at their feet. It really was money. And they had a real New Year. A pine tree, ornaments, candy… She was one happy little girl. It was a New Year’s fairytale.

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