This painting is from the early 20th century, when revolutionary currents were swirling in Russia and the status of the peasantry was widely discussed.
Issues of interpretation are raised by this.
The subject of the painting, tax collection and the poor material conditions of 17th-century peasants is valid for the 17th century, but the artist was also trying to score contemporary points.
In Russia, the nobility used the estate agricultural system to maintain their political power and their aristocracy, which was derived from command over land and people, not trade or commerce.
The focus stifled social mobility and the growth of the economy in the West.
There were few layers of Russian society between serfs and landlords.
95 percent of the population was rural.
There was no defined artisan class because the manufacturing took place in the countryside.
Non-noble bureau crats and professionals were encouraged by government growth.
Most of Russia's European trade was handled by Westerners posted to the main Russian cities and relied on Western shipping.
The nobility was concerned about potential social competition from both bureaucrats and businessmen and prevented the emergence of a merchant class.
The majority of the population was composed of enserfed farmers who had little opportunity for social or economic development.
Eastern Europe's growing economic subordination to the West was caused by the intensification of estate agriculture and serf labor pursued by the nobility.
Grain surpluses were purchased by Western merchants to feed the growing cities of western Europe.
In return, Western merchants brought in manufactured goods, including luxury furnishings and clothing.
The dependence on Western markets and reliance on serf labor to produce export goods should be compared to patterns in Latin America.
Russia was being drawn into the world economy as a food and raw materials producer, dependent on cheap labor, an example of growing regional inequalities in the global system.
Russia's social and economic system worked well.
It was able to support a state and empire.
Russia was able to trade in furs and other commodities with areas in central Asia outside of its borders, which meant that it was not completely focused on the West.
It changed the culture of the magnates.
Russia's population doubled during the 18th century to 36 million.
The world Shrinks by a harsh climate in most regions during the Early Modern Period.
There was no question that the economy had advanced despite famines and epidemics.
The system had important limitations.
Most agricultural methods were traditional, and there was little motivation among the peasantry for improvement because increased production usually was taken by the state or the landlord.
When it came to increasing production, landlords concentrated on squeezing the serfs.
The important extension developed under Peter the Great did not help manufacturing.
Russia's economic and social system led to protests.
By the end of the 18th century, a small but growing number of Western-oriented aristocrats such as Radishev criticized the regime's backwardness, urging measures as far-reaching as the abolition of serfdom.
The seeds of a radical intelligentsia would grow with time.
The recurring peasant rebellions were still significant.
Russian peasants were politically loyal to the tsar, but they harbored resentments against their landlords, who they accused of taking lands that were rightfully theirs.
Peasants destroyed manorial records, seized land, and sometimes killed landlords and their officials.
The Pugachev rebellion of the 1770s was the strongest of the Peasant rebellions from the 17th century onward.
The Cossack leader Emelian promised an end to serfdom, taxation, and military Pugachev attracted supporters by appealing to the abolition of the landed aristocracy.
The popular belief was that Peter III was still alive.
He led southern Russia until they were defeated.
Pugachev was brought to Moscow in a revolt that threatened Catherine's case and cut into quarters in a public square.
When the revolt was defeated, Pugachev highlighted the dependence of government and the upper class but did not end, as an example of other protest.
The peasants were barely able to work their own plots of land.
The whole of eastern Europe was not included in Russian history after the 15th century.
There was a borderland between western European and eastern Euro pean influences.
Growing trade with the West sparked new cultural exchanges in the Balkans under Ottoman rule, as Greek merchants picked up many Enlightenment ideas.
Poland and the Czech and Slovak regions are examples of areas that are fully within the Western cultural sphere.
The Scientific Revolution was started by the Polish scientist Copernicus.
In Hungary, the currents of the west and the east mirrored each other.