In the Polenov original, the figures, house and garden are vibrant and in full color. In Vassiliev's versions, however, these things are distanced or obscured. So much had happened between Polenov’s time and when Vassiliev painted: for example, World War I, World War II, the nuclear age. These works ask whether it is possible to have any true understanding of how people thought and felt in previous times, or whether, at most, we can have only a distanced, obscured view of that prior world.
Vassiliev located the house that Polenov had painted and was saddened to see that it had fallen into disrepair and had become a gathering place for local alcoholics. Has the high culture of Polenov’s time and world also fallen into near collapse? What will happen to the culture of our time? What other aspects of loss will time bring?