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155th anniversary of Russian Painter Surikov today
01.24.2003 16:53

155th anniversary of Russian Painter Surikov today January 24, marks the 155th anniversary of the birth of the great Russian painter Vasily Surikov /1848-1916/. In the beginning of the 20th century he was known as "the Tolstoi of Russian painting". Surikov's creative activity is the summit of the development of history painting in Russia in the 19th century. His role in the Russian art of that epoch can be compared only with Ilya Repin's contribution into the development of genre and portrait painting. The artist did not paint many pictures, but each of them was a creative feat and an event in Russian life. "The Morning of the Strelets' Execution" was shown at an exhibition of the Peredvizhnik Association on March 1, 1881, the day, when Tsar Alexander II was assassinated by revolutionaries. After that, tragic paintings "Menshikov in Berezov" /1883/ and "Boyarynya Morozova" /1887/ followed. According to academician Dmitry Sarabyanov, the major connoisseur of the art of the 19th-20th centuries, "Boyarynya Morozova" is Surikov's "most significant painting in its profundity and variety of vital contents." These paintings form a historical-psychological trilogy with the interaction of masses and personalities, but show different relations between heroes and people, heroes and history. The painter's main characters are people, true to their ideas and ready to suffer in the struggle for them, but not knowing the truth. Surikov is convinced that these heroes embody "the tragedies, appearing on the crossroads of honest human intentions and secret laws of history," Sarabyanov noted. Seven Surikov's masterpieces, entirely revealing his talent and original approach to history paintings, were purchased by Pavel Tretyakov, the founding father of the famous Tretyakov Gallery. Nowadays, the gallery keeps 120 paintings by Surikov. The painter worked hard and thoroughly on each of his big, even huge pictures, checking the finest details and making dozens of sketches of the composition. Acute psychological characteristics are interlaced with plastic expression. For instance, the painter wanted to make Boyarynya Morozova's sledge go, and managed to achieve the effect of movement. A painter of rare and multifaceted talent, he created remarkable landscapes and portraits of his contemporaries. However, he went down in art history as the first painter to portray the tragic truth of Russian history, having elaborated an original method of "monumental realism". He managed to comprehend Russia's tragedy and reveal the dramatic nature of people's destiny. Surikov graduated from the Academy as "the artist of the 1st degree". After that, he went to Moscow to paint the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. In the future the artist's destiny and subjects of his many paintings were connected with Moscow. He was buried at the Vagankovo Cemetery in Moscow.

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