10, Lavrushinsky Lane, hall 39
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Viktor Vasnetsov (1848-1926) is one of the famed Russian artists of the second half of the XIX – first half of the XX century. The artist is generally recognized for his historical and folk-tale paintings like «Heroes (Bogatyri)» or “Alyonushka”. But few of us know that Vasnetsov was also interested in religious art.
Murals of St. Vladimir Cathedral in Kiev were his first artistic experience in that sphere. The exhibition presents Vasnetsov's preparatory works at frescos.
|Christ the Almighty
Viktor Vasnetsov felt a colossal responsibility as an artist: “There is no more spiritual and fruitful work for a Russian artist then to decorate a temple,” – he wrote. The painter believed heartily that during the spiritual crisis the Church was destined to unite the people, and that the reviving religious art might have become public and understandable due to expression of national ideals in it.
St. Vladimir Cathedral was built as a kind of memorial devoted to 900 anniversary of the Conversion of Russia. The recognized Russian art-historian and archeologist Adrian Prachov directed the process of the interior decoration. The main idea of the Prachov’s program lay in conceiving the sense of Russian religious history and its Byzantine roots. The most complicated mission was to create the gallery of Russian holy men, the canonized characters which inspired the spiritual idea of the Russian Orthodoxy.
Getting prepared to his work the artist visited Italy with its Byzantine cathedrals. Later in Kiev he examined the murals of Saint Sophia Cathedral and St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery. Vasnetsov had to contemplate again the 900 years of religious art and renovate it’s perception by the people.
|The Last Judgement
The most difficult part of his work was to bring the ideal into proper correlation. He combined the realistic vision of the figures with the conventional manuscript-manner background. Big traditional ornamental setting framed all the images. Soft warm colouring gave it the harmonical unity. Later the “Mir Iskusstva” (World of Art) magazine announced: “It is a mature and entire work, in which you can feel vivid inspiration and sense of decorating”.
It’s familiar that Pavel Tretyakov highly appreciated Vasnetsov’s oeuvre. But it’s still unprecedented that almost all preparatory works for St. Vladimir Cathedral were taken to collection of the Gallery in 1893. At the display you can see not only
sketches and preparatory works, but also the historical documents which reflect the peculiarities of current work.