Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Vasnetsov, Viktor

Le tapis volant (The Flying Carpet)
oil on canvas
165 x 297 cm
Nizhniy Novgorod Art Museum, Russia

In Russian folk tales, Baba Yaga can supply Ivan the Fool with a flying carpet or some other magical gifts. Such gifts help the hero to find his way "beyond thrice-nine lands, in the thrice-ten kingdom". In 1880, one rich industrialist commissioned Viktor Vasnetsov to illustrate a folk talk about Ivan and the Firebird. The painting represents Ivan returning home after capturing the Firebird, which he keeps in a cage. Ivan is riding the flying carpet in the early morning mist.

Viktor Mikhaylovich Vasnetsov (1848 - 1926) was a Russian artist who specialized in mythological and historical subjects. He was described as co-founder of folklorist/romantic modernism in the Russian painting and a key figure of the revivalist movement in Russian art.

He is a son of a village clergyman who prepared Viktor for the same career, but the passionate love for art brought the 19-year-old student of ecclesiastical seminary to St. Petersburg's Academy of Arts. He started as a scene painter. In the late 1870s early 1880s, he tried himself in historical genre and he borrowed the subjects from ancient history. He found another source of subjects in Russian mythology - legends, ballads, fairy-tales. He was born and grew up in a northern Russian village and almost to the age of 20 lived in an environment where the "folklore outlook" was still alive; his very soul was steeped in the poetry of Russian epic literature. He wasn't only the first artist to use subjects from folklore, but also the first to borrow methods and techniques from national folk art. Thus he became the founder of new style in Russian painting.