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Why the paintings of Vasily Vereshchagin, who went through the darkness of two wars, fell into disgrace for 30 years
Why the paintings of Vasily Vereshchagin, who went through the darkness of two wars, fell into disgrace for 30 years
"Mortally wounded". / Vasily Vereshchagin

Vasily Vereshchagin - a great artist traveling with an easel across the globe; a warrior who took an active part in the wars: Turkestan (1867-1878) and Russian - Japanese (1904); a man of great personal courage, whom the whole world knew and respected. The battle painter himself believed that only after passing through

War inspiration

, - the artist wrote about his passion for battle painting.

Vasily Vereshchagin

In Russian literature, Leo Tolstoy ("War and Peace", "Sevastopol") was a brilliant battle-painter, and in painting - Vasily Vasilyevich Vereshchagin. These two geniuses destroyed the myth of the war, which had been taking shape for centuries in the view of the uninitiated viewer and reader. When Russia saw the paintings of Vereshchagin, who unexpectedly exposed the war and presented it, there was a split in the public, some of which began to hate, and the other half fell in love with such a daredevil.

The apotheosis of war. (1872)

The apotheosis of war. (1872). Tretyakov Gallery. Author: Vasily Vereshchagin

The most famous masterpiece of Vereshchagin is "The Apotheosis of War", which is a philosophical message and warning directed to the future. The pyramid of skulls against the background of a strange abstract landscape, which Tamerlane erected each time in the conquered territories, impresses with its ideological meaning. And what is remarkable - this painting was originally named by the artist "Tamerlane's Triumph".

On the frame of the masterpiece, the artist Vereshchagin inscribed: "Dedicated to all the great conquerors: past, present and future."

The apotheosis of war. (1872). Fragment. Author: Vasily Vereshchagin

The strength of the impact of this canvas was such that one Prussian general advised Emperor Alexander II. And as a consequence: for 30 years, Russian state museums have not acquired the works of this world-famous "scandalous" artist at all.

Turkestan series dedicated to the hostilities of 1867-1878

The artist stayed in Turkestan for only a year, but working tirelessly, he made many sketches and unique sketches for his future works.

Near the fortress wall. "Let them come in." (1871) State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg. Author: Vasily Vereshchagin Mortally wounded. (1873). Author: Vasily Vereshchagin Parliamentarians. "Give up" - "Go to hell!" (1873). Author: V.V. Vereshchagin "After the failure" (1868). Author: Vasily Vereshchagin After the luck. 1868, State Russian Museum. St. Petersburg. Author: Vasily Vereshchagin The warrior rider in Jaipur. (1881). Author: Vasily Vereshchagin

The artist has always been with great interest in the details of the uniforms of soldiers of all armies. So on this canvas we see the bright color of an Indian warrior sitting on a horse covered with a rich carpet.

Cycle of paintings "1812"

Retreat. Escape along the Smolensk road. Author: Vasily Vereshchagin Napoleon at the Borodino Heights. (1897). State Historical Museum. Moscow Author: Vasily Vereshchagin

The master created many battle paintings about the military battles on the battlefields of 1812, when Napoleon and his army moved to Moscow. Here, too, we see the beginning of the Battle of Borodino, where the frowning great French commander sits in front of everyone. Before the start of the battle, anticipating a decisive victory, he ordered the officers to put on ceremonial uniforms. But the picture shows the uncertainty and fear of the protagonist, but with all his appearance, Bonaparte is trying to show that he is the commander-in-chief of the French army and does not intend to retreat. The painter's irony is felt throughout the canvas, and for this purpose he, as it were, depersonalized the image of Napoleon.

Napoleon and Marshal Lauriston ("Peace at all costs!"). From the series "Napoleon in Russia". (1899-1900). State Historical Museum. Moscow. Author: Vasily Vereshchagin

The plot of the canvas "Peace at any cost!" describes the events when the great French army, after the capture of Moscow, faced cold, hunger and want. And then Napoleon decided on a peace proposal to the Russians through Marshal Loriston, to which Kutuzov replied that he had no authority to conclude a peace one.

Russian-Turkish war of 1877-78

Winners. Author: Vasily Vereshchagin Defeated. Memorial service for the killed. (1877-1879). Author: Vasily Vereshchagin

Tragedy and sorrow permeate the large canvas "requiem for the dead", where the viewer seems to say goodbye to the killed Russian soldiers on the battlefield, whose heroism the artist has always admired.Art historians compare Vereshchagin's "The Vanquished" by its ideological content with a work steeped in tragedy - "The Apotheosis of War". Both of these canvases are regarded as a symbol of the disaster of the warriors on earth. The dullness of the landscape, where the field of death to the very horizon is covered with the bodies of the dead, over which the gloomy sky hangs, creates a depressed and gloomy mood.

Before the attack. Near Plevna. (1881). Author: Vasily Vereshchagin Russian positions at the Shipka Pass. Author: Vasily Vereshchagin

The life of this extraordinary master of the brush is truly amazing and extraordinary, it is full of adventures, dangers, tragedy., - from the notes of the critic V.V. Stasov.

Vasily Vereshchagin

The great battle painter died on March 31, 1904, brush in hand, when he was working on a sketch from nature, while on the flagship Petropavlovsk, which went under water from the explosion of Japanese mines. Together with everyone else, the commander of the Russian fleet, Admiral S.O. Makarov. Thus, the war took the life of a 62-year-old outstanding artist.

V.V. Vereshchagin in Port Arthur (to the right of V.V. Vereshchagin - commander-in-chief A.N. Kuropatkin)

When Russia learned about the terrible death of Vasily Vereshchagin, the press in St. Petersburg was the first to publish a short nikrologue:

"Admiral S.O. Makarov and battle-painter V.V. Vereshchagin in the cabin. (1904). Author: E. Capital

The fate of the Russian artist is amazing Boris Kustodiev, who created a completely different genre - more peaceful, life-affirming and more colorful.

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