The painting is based on the Russian fairy tale The Three Kingdoms: Copper, Silver, and Golden, with the three czarevnas epitomising the wealth of the Urals subsurface resources. Vasnetsov changes the storyline of the fairy tale: he places in the picture figures that symbolise gold, precious stones and coal. The patterned clothes of the senior czarevnas seem to be woven of precious metals and studded with semi-precious stones; they are sparkling and glistening, bathing the space around with fantastic light. The fragile figure of the junior czarevna emerges mysteriously against the dark rock. Her face is glowing in the dark. Vasnetsov integrates in this painting the storylines of several Russian fairy tales, in which elder sisters are haughty and arrogant towards their younger sibling. The youngest sister cannot boast of the beauty of her dress, but it is she who holds the secret of human happiness. It is not by chance that her kingdom is called "black gold": after all, it is coal that gives people warmth and light. The senior czarevnas only rule greedy human souls, while the junior one epitomises man's wise union with nature.
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