- Project Runeberg -  Impressions of Russia /
163

(1889) [MARC] Author: Georg Brandes Translator: Samuel Coffin Eastman - Tema: Russia
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imitate the art of painting of other countries. Thus there
sprang up several generations of academicians, imitators
of David, who painted Spartans and Romans with bare
legs and flowing mantles.

The national revival of 1812, which was quickly felt
in the literature, had hardly any effect upon art.
Nicholas secured two court painters, Beylof and Kotzebue, —
the former of whom has become known by a cold
academical painting, “The Last Day of Pompeii,” and
the latter by his battle-pieces, representing the victories
of Suvórof and Kutúzof, which of necessity resemble
all such scenes of victory of former days. A single
artist comes to the front at this time, Ivánof, who is
now so celebrated, the painter of a single painting, which,
however, was never finished.

It was Gogol, who had formed a friendship with
Ivánof, who gave him the idea of this picture from
sacred history, which was to be a prodigy, and which,
since he was never content with the execution of his
plan, made the artist continually begin anew. For
twenty consecutive years, Ivanof busied himself with
this work, “The Coming of Christ.” A throng of men
are standing on the banks of the Jordan, about John the
Baptist. The looks of all are fixed upon a point in the
distance, at which John points with his hand. Here
over the highland Jesus appears, a sad man, drawing
near to the throng, grazing the ground with his divine
feet. He seems to be half beatified.

The characterization in these heads was executed with
persistent passion. On the other hand, the coloring is
weak. In Tretiakof’s gallery in Moscow, a gold mine
for the study of Russian art, you can trace a whole
series of the attempts through which the painting has
attained to its final form.

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