Boris Kustodiev was born in Astrakhan into the family of a professor of philosophy, history of literature, and logic at the local theologicalseminary. His father died young, and all financial and material burdens fell on his mother's shoulders. The Kustodiev family rented a small wing in a rich merchant's house. It was there that the boy's first impressions were formed of the way of life of the provincial merchant class. The artist later wrote, "The whole tenor of the rich and plentiful merchant way of life was there right under my nose... It was like something out of anOstrovsky play." The artist retained these childhood observations for years, recreating them later in oils and water-colours.