Studio: international art — 66.1915

Page: 264
DOI article: DOI Page: Citation link: 
https://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/studio1915c/0270
License: Free access  - all rights reserved Use / Order
0.5
1 cm
facsimile
Wall-Paintings by Victor Vasnetsov

was not completed until 1896. The wall-space is
elaborately decorated with paintings in which gold
is lavishly employed. Fifteen large frescoes and
thirty single figures on copper panels are the work
of Vasnetsov.

The colossal altar-piece of the Madonna and
Child strikes the eye imme-
diately upon one’s entrance
by the great western door-
way.

The sombrely-clad figure
of the Virgin stands out in
strong relief against a flat
gold background, her feet
resting on horizontal bands
of pale-hued clouds. The
swing of the drapery, sug-
gesting. motion, and the
animated pose of the
Christ-Child are contrary
to archaistic convention,
but the general effect is
reminiscent of the stereo-
typed Byzantine school.

We recognise that in this
last phase of Vasnetsov’s
art he has only freed him-
self by degrees from the
influence of precedent. It
is not until we come to the
magnificent Last Judgment,
that we find the painter’s
genius rising to the full
height of its individuality
and power.

The multiplicity of
details in this great com-
position renders it unfit for
reproduction on a small
scale, so that one must fall
back upon description.

The whole vast assem-
blage of figures is domi-
nated by the white-robed
Christ, whose divine
Majesty transforms the
judgment-seat from a
mere studio property bor-
rowed from the Kremlin into the throne of the
Incarnate Godhead.

The subservience of the attendant figures of the
Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist is marked by
their conventionality, and in like manner the twelve
Apostles and the ordered ranks of the heavenly
264

host behind them are rigorously subordinated to
the central group or “ Deisus” as it is called in the
Greek Church. The winged archangel on the left
of the Saviour strikes the eye, however, by the
elaborate richness of his clothing and the energy
with which he appears about to hurl his javelin at
the snake writhing below
him. Beneath the cloud-
laid floor of Heaven lies
the underworld peopled
with the generations of the
evil and the good, and on
this secondary plane the
painter’s imagination—sup-
ported by the religious faith
which is the very life of
religious art—gives a
strange air of reality to
pure symbolism.

The dread ordeal of the
weighing of the heart
which awaited the votary
of Osiris is idealised and
sanctified in the figure of
an angel with the scales of
justice, his outspread wings
tipped with light from the
glory shining above. Be-
fore him with mingled
terror and supplication in
his eyes stands the naked
resurrected soul, while
Satan casts into the balance
the roll of his ill-deeds. In
the semi-darkness behind
the Prince of Evil a
multitude of lost ones
are seething with agonised
contortions in the coils of
a gigantic serpent, abhor-
rent and infinitely sinister.

Upon the angel’s right
hand are ranged the
righteous before God:
aged ascetics, royal saints,
maidens lifting pure, eyes
to Heaven untroubled by
the trump of doom which
is sounded beside them ; while from the graves
the dead are rising and the caverns of the earth
yield up their bones. The artist has realised to
the full the grandeur and dignity of his subject.
He is never merely decorative, though design is
apparent throughout, and he is never betrayed by

“eudoxia, princess and saint

WALL-PAINTING BY VICTOR VASNETSOV
loading ...