Anton Barkhatkov (1917–2001) is one of the key figures in the development of the landscape genre in the history of Belarusian fine arts. The landscape painter turns both to the interior genre and to a portrait image. This became the painter’s hallmark and work at the permanent exhibition in the museum.

The painting ‘First Song’ (1957) is an autobiographical work. It is associated with the vocation of the artist’s wife Sofya Barkhatkova, an actress in the musical theater and a teacher at the Music School No. 5 in Minsk.

This charming painting combines specific portrait features and collective images, a story about the Soviet era with some interior details and an impressionistic pictorial solution.

A music lesson is taking place in the room flooded with sunlight near the open window. A little girl is singing and playing the piano. A young teacher is standing next to her leaning a little. The artist depicted his wife in this image. She helps the young talent to find that purity of the song sound, embodied by the artist in the sonority of the pictorial solution of the canvas. That is why the light here is the third main character. It brightens the black polished surface of the piano, penetrates through the curtains, falls on the floor with bright spots and creates a feeling of ‘warmth’ of the air.

The artist perfectly meets the challenges of the portrait in the image of his wife. He accurately depicts not only the external similarity, but also her gentle and intelligent nature.

The prototype of the depicted interior was probably the author’s own apartment. There is a black grand piano that is a true family heirloom. This is a rare instrument, made in only five copies. The grand piano had its amazing sound. It was presented to Sofya Kuzminichna’s father in 1905. She inherited it later.

The painting ‘First Song’ became not only Anton Barkhatkov’s hallmark, but an iconic work in the Belarusian art of the 20th century. It reflected the changes in the 1950s. After the death of Stalin and severe restrictions in art in the 1940s, after heavy war years, painting wanted to be made in bright and light colors, wanted to talk about youth and dreams, about childhood and carelessness.