Ivan IV was the Grand Prince of the Duchy of Moscow who may have named himself the Tsar of all Russias, but a Tsar who had moments of insanity. In a fit of rage, he killed his son and could not believe nor undo what he had done.
One wonders whether Vladimir Putin will ever realise that Ukrainians are defending themselves? This invasion is madness so profound that Putin does not want other countries to help Ukraine. He will destroy Britain if Britain opposes him. He seems to believe that Ukraine is his possession and that he can do as he pleases …
That one man should be allowed to unleash such devastation as Ukraine is suffering makes no sense. Putin, and Putin alone, stands between war and peace. No one should be this powerful. Moreover, President Putin may no longer be completely aware of what he is doing. He may be ill. At any rate, he will not be brought to his senses.
Millions have left Ukraine, and thousands of lives have been lost, but, ironically, because the world knows Putin could use nuclear and chemical weapons, it is paralysed. Have we out-weaponed ourselves? An army! Give Ukraine a multinational army that will end this massacre. Ukraine must defend itself. I remember the Holocaust and pogroms.
I sound like a preacher and will, therefore, close this post. I apologise for not being an active blogger. I haven’t recovered. Ilya Repin (5 August [O.S. 24 July] 1844 – 29 September 1930) was a Ukrainian-born Russian artist.
The horse featured above is an artwork by one of Russia’s foremost portraitists, Ilya Repin (5 August [O.S. 24 July] 1844 – 29 September 1930). No date is given and I haven’t found a signature. We do not know when Horse was completed. Nor do we know whether Repin wanted this work to be shown.
It is lovely, but it differs from other paintings by Repin. To my knowledge, the colour indigo was not used to depict horses in 19th-century Russia. Nor were blues, greens, and turquoise, a mixture. The background, sand with a golden hue, is almost traditional. It could be used as the background to a portrait. However, in Horse, the background is primarily flat. Moreover, were it not for a larger number of gold-coloured speckles in the sand, in the lower part of the painting, Repin would not have ‘sat’ his horse. You may have noticed also that Repin’s horse does not cast a shadow and that its snout as well as its lower legs are ‘interrupted.’ We are therefore reminded of Japonism and childhood. Horse is classified as a realist work of art. It is a realist work of art in as much as we know the figure it portrays is a horse, but the horse is of a different colour.
“A Moral Social Purpose”
In 1878, Repin joined the Society of the Peredvizhniki or Itinerant’s Society, which can be traced back to the “Rebellion of the Fourteen,” when 14 young artists left the school after refusing to paint mythological paintings for their diplomas. “In 1891 he resigned from the Itinerants’ Society in protest against a new statute that restricted the rights of young artists.” (See Ilya Repin, Wiki2.org. & Ilya Repin, Wikiart.org.)
However, Repin was not a rebel. By and large, he followed in the footsteps of his teacher, Ivan Kramskoi. He may have been influenced by Ivan Bunakov, with whom Repin’s father helped him apprentice. With Bunakov, a local icon painter, “he restored old icons and painted portraits of local notables through commissions.” (See Wiki2.org.) However, although he was familiar with impressionism, and “admired some impressionist techniques, especially their depictions of light and color, he felt their work lacked moral social purpose, key factors in his own art.”
A Portrait Artist
“Repin had a set of favorite subjects, and a limited circle of people whose portraits he painted. But he had a deep sense of purpose in his aesthetics, and had the great artistic gift to sense the spirit of the age and its reflection in the lives and characters of individuals.” (See Ilya Repin, Wiki2.org.)
Repin was a portraitist, though not exclusively. Philanthropist and art lover and collector Pavel Tretyakov, a patron of Repin, expressed a need for depictions of his contemporaries. Repin’s portrait of composer Modest Mussorgsky (21 March 1839 – [16 O.S..] 28 March 1881), one of the Five, is unforgettable. It was painted shortly before the composer’s death. Mussorgsky’s family lost half of its estate in 1861, the year serfs were emancipated, which precipitated a crisis. Mussorgsky also joined a group indulging in an “intense worship of Bacchus.” (See Modest Mussorgsky, Wiki2. org.). Alcoholism destroyed him. This portrait suggests compassion on the part of Repin.
Ilya Repin‘s celebrated portrait of Mussorgsky, painted 2–5 March 1881, only a few days before the composer’s death (Wiki2.org.)
The Common People
Repin’s “paintings show his feeling of personal responsibility for the hard life of the common people and the destiny of Russia.” (See Ilya Repin, Wiki2.org.)
Repin’s Barge Haulers on the Volga may well be his most famous comment on the life of “the common people.” The barge haulers were called burlaks and attracted Repin’s attention between 1870 and 1873. They resembled convicted men condemned to row galleys.
The industrial revolution may have liberated the barge haulers, but if it did, liberation was probably achieved in the manner serfs were emancipated. Many former serfs had to pay for the land they had tilled and had fed them. Former serfs were also employed in factories where they worked 15 hours a day, which I suspect was the fate of burlaks. (See Bloody Sunday, Wiki2.org.)
In 1872, Repin married Vera Shevtsova. His marriage lasted ten years. Natalia Nordman (14 December 1863 – 30 June 1914) was “the love of Repin’s life.” (See WikiArt.org.) They lived in her house, called Penaty (the Penates), in Kuokkala, Finland. According to Wikiart.org., Repin designed and built the Penates (See Wikiart.org.). I am therefore confused. However, the common denominator is that Ilya Repin and Natalia Nordman-Severova lived at the Penates. On Wednesday, the couple received guests. Repin made sketches of their guests and Natalia Nordman was the keeper of the album. The Album is entitled Portrait from the Album of Natalia Nordman-Severova.
So Horse makes sense. It is fanciful, but not too fanciful. In fact, it is little more than, as noted above, a horse of a different colour. However, horses of a different colour may constitute not a new, but a gentler reality.
In Eastern or Orthodox Churches, the Western Church’s Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus of Nazareth, is called the Theotokos, a Greek word meaning literally the “Birth-Giver of God.” Moreover, in Orthodox Churches, also called the Byzantine Rite, the Theotokos has always been portrayed in the same way. In the Western Church, depictions of Mary differ from artist to artist and from art movement to art movement. The Western Church has paintings and statues of the Virgin Mary, but the Theotokos is an icon.
In 1054, the Eastern Church rejected the Immaculate Conception. According to Augustine of Hippo (13 November 354 – 28 August 430 CE), a revered father of the Church, humans were born guilty of the Original Sin. They were tainted until Baptism.
[t]he formal active essence of original sin was not removed from her soul, as it is removed from others by baptism; it was excluded, it never was in her [Mary’s] soul. Simultaneously with the exclusion of sin.
We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.
But the debate is over. “In 1965, Pope Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Athenagoras I nullified the anathemas of 1054 although this nullification of measures taken against a few individuals was essentially a goodwill gesture and did not constitute any sort of reunion.” (See East-West Schism, Wiki2.org.)
It may be that this nullifaction was a “goodwill gesture,” but there were genuine benefits to this goodwill gesture. Basically, East or West, a Christian is a Christian. The Theotokos of Vladimir is in the Tretyakov Gallery, in a functioning church. It cannot go out of style.
I read a sentence, the source of which is Britannica, but cannot find again. However, it read that “[t]he Byzantine heritage survived … mainly because the Orthodox church showed an astonishing internal strength and a remarkable administrative flexibility.” The eastern church has Synods, each of which is autonomous, rather than one Holy See. (See Autocephaly, Wiki2.org.)
However, what led me to investigate the Immaculate Conception and, in the process, mention the Assumption, is the extraordinary spirituality of Russia’s liturgical music. It shows “astonishing internal strength.”
I apologize for not posting for a long time. I was asked to prepare a “protection mandate” and a Will. I am told that it is ordinary business. However, if at all possible, I will take care of my cat until nature takes him away. He will be eleven in April. I will also take care of myself.
However, I’ve not been idle. I have been comparing the Western Church, Catholicism’s Virgin Mary in particular, and the Eastern Church’s Theotokos, the Birth-Giver of God.
This subject is a little more complicated than one would suspect. The two Churches are both united and different.
I will publish my post as soon as my cat lets me use the computer’s keyboard.
I have mentioned Savrasov (1830 – 1897) in two earlier posts. In one of these posts, I combined a short discussion of the artist and a list of newspapers. I also wrote that Aleksey Savrasov was Isaac Levitan’s teacher and had been a member of the Peredvizhniki group. The Peredvizhniki (the Wanderers) group protested academic restrictions. I will add that, at the beginning of his career, Savrasov’s paintings were considered Romantic. The romantics expressed sentiment and individualism as their country entered its Industrial Age, William Blake‘s “dark, satanic mills.”
In Moscow, he and his wife entertained art lovers and art collectors, including Pavel Tretyakov, who gave his art gallery to Russia in 1892. At this time in his life, Savrasov had a fine and productive relationship with artist Vasily Perov. Savrasov helped Perov paint his Bird catcher and Hunters on Bivouac and Perov helped Savrasov paint the boat trackers in his Volga.
The International Exhibition in England
In 1662, Savrasov travelled to Europe to see England’s International Exhibition and also went to visit Switzerland. The lesson he drew from visiting the International Exhibition in England was that no academies could so promote an artist as an international exhibition. (See Aleksey Savrasov, Wiki2.org.)
Alcoholism and Death
In the late 1870s, after the death of this daughter, Savrasov became an alcoholic. No one could help. In 1882, he was dismissed from the MSPSA. The following line is very moving: “Only the doorkeeper of the MSPSA and Pavel Tretyakov, founder of the Tretyakov Gallery, were present at his funeral in 1897.” (See Aleksey Savrasov, Wiki2.org.)
Savrasov’s “The Rooks have returned” (1871) is considered one of his finest, if not his finest, painting. But so many of Savrasov’s paintings are masterpieces that saying one is the best is a genuine challenge.
For instance, “A Spring Day” (1873) is perfection and it touches us because it depicts the beginning of a season. Human beings have painted the seasons for a very long time and they have kept Books of Hours. Jean de France, duc de Berry‘s Très Riches Heuresdepicts each month of the year and its labour. Savrasov’ paintings often portray transitions and, therefore, renewal They show the end or beginning of a season, the end of winter, in particular. Seasons follow seasons eternally. Life rises again, irrepressibly.
Note that smoke comes out of the chimney of the first little brown homes. Until now, the Industrial Revolution, humans have protected themselves. We have dealt with the elements, found a refuge and built roads and fences. The pale green of trees in the background allows us to get a clear view of the disheveled trees burgeoning.
From the point of view of composition, “A Spring Day” has several golden sections. A golden section/ratio resembles an off-center crucifix. One of two lines, an horizontal and a vertical line, is longer than the other line. “A Spring Day” shows a long horizontal line that crosses a vertical line. The meeting point is a group trees. Perspective is achieved by the change in colouring from dark to pale. Moreover, there is a road, or vanishing point (le point de fuite). There is no flaw in the composition of “A Spring Day.”
The sky sits above a long arched line supported by small trees on the right and the bulkier houses on the left.
“A Spring Thaw,” the painting placed at the beginning of this post, combines diagonal and other lines. They are hints of Japonisme. Moreover, the colouring is very smooth.
Savrasov’s softens his landscapes as though each were a praise of nature and a prayer.
I wanted to copy a post, but something went wrong. My computer or platform could not copy the post. I did not attempt to revive the computer.
However, I found a winter scene painted by Aleksey Savrasov. Aleksey Savrasov was Isaac Levitan‘ teacher. Savrasov created the lyrical landscape and Levitan, the mood landscape. The terms are interchangeable.
Both joined the Peredvizhniki group, but Levitan did so later than Savrasov.
I lost my voice on 11 December. I phoned my doctor, whispering. He asked that I visit him at the clinic. When I phoned, whispering, he diagnosed sinusitis. He was busy. The pharmacy sent a nose cleaning kit. It was and remains bronchitis. The pharmacy will send medication this afternoon.
The video is a short piece, but very moving. I am very fond of liturgical music.
My best wishes to all of you. May this be your finest Christmas or holidays ever.
“Our Father” from “Sacred Treasures III:”
Performed by St. Petersburg Chamber Choir
Directed by Nikolai Korniev
Recorded in St. Catherine’s Lutheran Church, St. Petersburg, Russia
The 19th century was the century of nationalism. The Brothers Grimm went from German-language land to German-language land to collect folklore, which they believe would help reveal distinct German roots. Germany had yet to unify and become the German Empire.
As for The Five, our Slavic composers, they attempted to express Eastern Russia. Music in Russia had been westernized since Peter the Great. The Five did not turn their back fully on classical harmony and counterpoint, but they started using whole-tone scales leading Western composers to create new scales.
However, the “programme” remained to be established. In the 19th century, several composers favoured “programmatic” music. Music had to tell a story. Despite his early death, in a duel, poet Alexandre Pushkin (1799-1837), wrote poems that were Russian fairy tales, whatever their origin. A nation acculturates folktales.
Ivan Bilibin had studied at the Anton Abže Art School in Munich and had been influenced by Art Nouveau and Japanese prints. But he also studied under Ilya Repin. However, he became interested in folklore. It was a magnet. He graduated from the Anton Abže Art School after publication of his illustrations of Russian fairy tales. He was associated with Mir iskusstva, an association and a magazine. Bilibin fled Russia, during the October Revolution in 1917. In 1925, he settled in Paris where he worked for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes and decorated private mansions and Orthodox churches. But he was homesick. After decorating the Soviet Embassy, in 1936, he returned to Soviet Russia. He died of starvation during the Siege of Leningrad, in the land whose fairy tales he had illustrated.
Ivan Bilibin‘s 1909 stage set design for Act 2: The Tsardom of Tsar Dadon, Town Square (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Five may have been looked upon as lesser musicians by members of the musical establishment in Russia. For instance, Mily Balakirev did refuse appointments because he had little formal training. I spent the most important years of my life in academic establishments and have seen colleagues finding fault with other colleagues. So, the Russian Five may been ridiculed.
However, I would like to point out that Mikhail Glinka (1 June 1804 – 15 February 1857) respected Mily Balakirev (2 January 1837 – 29 May 1910), the leader of The Five, and that Tchaikovsky applauded Balakirev.
The Five took their lead from him Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka, who could be called the father of classical music in Russia. Moreover, Mily Balakirev befriended Glinka and they composed music together. When Glinka and Balakirev’s patron, Alexander Ulybyshev (Oulibicheff) (1794-1858) died, Balakirev lost support that was vital to him.
In other words, The Five did not oppose classical music. Their wish was to give Russian classical music its Slavic character. As we have seen, Rimsky-Korsakov sent Tchaikovsky ten fugues he had composed, which Tchaikovsky (7 May 1840 – 6 November 1893) examined and found “impeccable.” (See RELATED ARTICLE.)
As for Tchaikovsky himself, let us read:
“Tchaikovsky’s training set him on a path to reconcile what he had learned with the native musical practices to which he had been exposed from childhood. From this reconciliation he forged a personal but unmistakably Russian style—a task that did not prove easy.”
(See Tchaikovsky, Wiki2.org.)
God grant that our Slav guests may never forget today’s concert; God grant that they may forever preserve the memory of how much poetry, feeling, talent, and intelligence are possessed by the small but already mighty handful of Russian musicians.
Vladimir Stasov’s article was consecration for The Five and Slavic composer Alexander Dargomyzhsky. Their work now belonged to an all-Russian effort to express Russia’s distinct and distinguishable Slavic roots.
Similarly, the great Glinka, associated with Romanticism, recognized The Five. He and Balakirev composed The Lark.
It could be said that The Five were a baudelaireianfrisson nouveau: a new shudder. But were it not for The Five and Tchaikovsky, would classical music have inherited its internationally-acclaimed Russian répertoire?
Glinka drawn in the 1840s, portrait by Yanenko (Wiki2.org.)