Vrubel M. Bogatyr. 1898–99 Bogatyr
Oil on canvas. 321.5 x 222 (triangular top)
Mikhail Vrubel was drawn to the mystery, primordial purity and spirituality of the bylina — a traditional Russian heroic poem. The ancient hero in his decorative attire and his trusty horse are inseparable from their environment — a morose forest closely guarding its secrets.
This sensation was possibly even stronger before the first owner, Malich, decided to change the original square format of the picture. The canvas was cut on three sides and inserted into a Gothic frame with an angular top. The artist wrote to his sister in January 1899: “The work is almost finished. I am so delighted by it that I want to risk showing it at the Academy exhibition — if it is accepted. After all, I am an attested decadent. This, however, is a misunderstanding; I believe that my new work will set the record straight.” Mikhail Vrubel’s panel was highly rated by the famous Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky- Korsakov.
Vrubel M. Flying Demon. 1899 Flying Demon
Oil on canvas. 138.5 x 430.5
Like all other works by Mikhail Vrubel, Flying Demon is a profoundly sincere and confessional painting. The young Nietzschean hero cannot do evil, yet is unable to escape the chains of loneliness, the “inner dungeon” of his own making.
Proud, melancholy and disdainful, he soars in the lifeless heights. Flying Demon was an extremely topical work. Combining the fin-de-siecle atmosphere with a strong element of autobiography, it expressed the moods of many Russians of that time.
Vrubel M. Six-Winged Seraph. 1904 Six-Winged Seraph
Oil on canvas. 131 x 155
Six-Winged Seraph is linked to the theme of the prophetic mission of the artist, one that greatly occupied Symbolists of various lands and times. From the 1890s onwards, inspired by Alexander Pushkin’s poem The Prophet, Mikhail Vrubel dedicated a series of compositions in painting and graphic art to this theme. The artist seems to paint an inner vision of a “fire-like” messenger of God, an angel with a fiery gaze, the patron and merciless judge of the artist-prophet, reminding artists of their sublime mission and calling them “to burn people’s hearts with a word” and awaken their souls “from the trifles of everyday life with majestic images.” Vrubel’s inner experiences of the time when he was working on Fallen Demon are reflected in the painting’s sublime construction and its assiduity of feeling. The startling tones conjure up associations with the Byzantine mosaics in Venice and Ravenna seen by the artist in his youth.