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How Viktor Vasnetsov in 25 years created 5 thousand square meters of church painting

Few people know that the well-known Russian artist Viktor Vasnetsov, who was shy by nature, who was famous for his “Heroes”, “Alyonushka”, “Vityaz at the Crossroads”, was a rather extraordinary person who caused ambiguous attitude of his contemporaries. Some prescribed him a nickname – “a clear sun”, others accused of “retrograde and obscurantism”, and modern art historians, having studied and appreciated the artist’s entire heritage, called him “the hero of Russian painting.” How else could one call a master who wrote many of the most grandiose canvases and created more than 5 thousand square meters of church painting.

In the spring of this year, the world community celebrated the 170th anniversary of the birth of the brilliant Russian painter, whose work has been debated among art historians for many years. It is difficult to find among artists of the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries who, with their creative work, would cause such a storm of conflicting contemporaries than Viktor Vasnetsov. He was sincerely elevated, calling a true folk master, then accused of trying to revive the “Byzantine and Old Russian styles”, considering his painting a little interesting. And, if you dig deeper, the very life of the artist will seem full of contradictions.

In the family of the clergyman Mikhail Vasilyevich Vasnetsov, the father of the artist, there were six children in whom he put his whole soul and tried to educate them not only by religious rules. He put a lot of effort to his offspring comprehensively developed, studying various sciences.

However, Victor, who grew up on the Vyatka land, where legends, superstitions, legends were in abundance, preferred to all the sciences “ancient tales of the deep.” From early childhood, a gift for drawing appeared in it and fabulous plots became the main theme of his drawings. The talent of the boy certainly did not go unnoticed, but the parents of a large family could not afford to pay for his son in art school. And Victor had to be content with the seminary, where the children of the clergy studied for free.

But Viktor Vasnetsov did not succeed in graduating from this educational institution. A year before her graduation, with the blessing of her father, he travels to St. Petersburg and enters the Drawing School, and soon becomes a student at the Academy of Arts.

“A candle lit before the face of the Lord”
The son of a hereditary priest, who was also prepared for the fate of the priest, still a youth, who escaped from serving the church, later returned there as a mature artist. He left for centuries the memory of himself as the greatest master of the 19th century, painting thousands of square meters of walls in churches and cathedrals in Russia and abroad.

It will take more than one year before the master realizes that: “All the best that a person creates in art is inspired by religious quest. And there is no more sacred work for a Russian painter than decorating a temple. ” And for about twenty-five years of life, an eminent master as an icon painter will spend on creating more than 5,000 square meters of church painting.

For nearly a decade, the painter worked on the painting of the Vladimir Cathedral in Kiev. More than two thousand square meters of masterpiece painting can still be seen on the walls of this temple. The church painting of the Church of the Savior on Blood in St. Petersburg is connected with his name, where on the facade of the building you can see four great works of the icon painter dedicated to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

12 years of painstaking work took the artist to a unique painting of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Warsaw, where the master painted 2800 square meters. From his author’s sketches sixteen enormous mosaic plots were created. Unfortunately, the inhabitants of Warsaw did not admire the beauty of the temple for long. The Polish authorities, declaring the independence of the country, adopted a decree on the demolition of Orthodox churches. In 1926, the temple was demolished from the face of the earth.

He painted the Russian icon painter and the Church of Mary Magdalene in Darmstadt (Germany), and the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia (Bulgaria), where icons of Viktor Vasnetsov are still preserved.

To all the above, I would like to note that the Russian monarchs were very supportive of the famous artist. Alexander III and Nicholas II were regular customers.

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