(via bluelephant: [un post maravilloso sobre pintura, matemática, Rusia y el aprendizaje]

Cálculo Mental, N. P. Bogdanov-Belsky, 1895
(Vía Dark Roasted Blend)

Tras colgar esta pintura le escribí un correo al respecto a Sasha Borovik, en Manchester. Supuse que a Sasha le interesaría la pintura por ser rusa y porque desde hace tiempo está muy interesado en el aprendizaje infantil de las matemáticas. A continuación incluyo apartes de los dos correos que me ha escrito en respuesta.


Dear Javier,

many thanks! I believe the picture was in the reading book for elementary school that I used as a child.

I also remember that, as a boy aged 10 or 11, I had skills — and loved — to solve arithmetic calculation exercises with multidigit numbers by cheating, using quick estimates based on the assumption that the answer and intermediate results were integers. We were supposed to do calculations on paper, however. I simply wrote an answer. My teacher was a very kind woman and tolerated my laziness.

Just imagine my pleasure when I had a look at the picture and said for myself: “the answer should be 2”.

Sweet memories!


The teacher in the painting (1895) is S. A. Rachinsky, a retired professor of biology and rich philanthropist who taught in his own school (notice a bow tie and elegant dress that. surprisingly, does not look out of place). The painter is Nikolay Petrovich Bogdanov-Belsky, a former pupil from his school (Rachinsky also funded Bogdanov-Belsky’s further professional study in art).

The sentimentality of Bogdanov-Belsky’s paintings frequently borders on kitsch, but I am prepared to forgive him that flaw. See more his paintings at http://bibliotekar.ru/kBogdanov/0.htm (and page from there).