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Calvary

Painting, 1893, 222.4×191 cm

Description of the artwork «Calvary»

Tormented people of small stature (underlined below standing on both sides of robbers), dirty purple rags, too wide for his frail body, and with disheveled hair (later somehow particularly disturbed the audience) is "the middle world", shutting his eyes and clenching his hands desperately head: "Oh my God! Oh, my God! Why have You forsaken me?.." (Matt.27:46).

I do not see any slope, no cross. Ghostly moves and vaguely distinguishable human mass stood out in the background, seemed to emit a disapproving rumble, demanding a murmur "crucify him, crucify Him!" (Jn.19:6), and the cut edge of the canvas by the hand of a Legionnaire unwavering power and indicates the direction of the way of the cross.

Contemporaries believed "Calvary"one of the latter, suicide, Nikolai GE paintings unfinished. In vain. In this deliberate askinosie in the seemingly chaotic distribution of the stroke, freely violating the contours of things in the field, and the nervousness of the hand in dissonant combinations of colors, tearing eyes "dirt" background, painfully bleak palette dominated by shades of rust – it was all well thought out and hard-won aesthetics.

The context of the emergence of paintings by Nikolay GE "Calvary"


1891-the year. GE has just crossed the 60-year milestone, but this year he thinks about death. And the feeling that this day is not far off, making his life a particular attitude, far from despair and from hope. Rather it can be called responsibility. it is important to understand that life is lived not in vain, and to meet death with dignity. His friend and kindred spirit Thickin letters admonishes GE to work harder for the simple and indisputable grounds that will soon die: "It is necessary to death to do all that I can... Life doesn't have a lot left. Canvases to paint there are many masters, and to Express those moments of gospel truths clear to you, I don't know anyone except you..." "I'm scared, and it is a pity that now-tomorrow you will die, and everything that you change your mind and have felt the artistic images for the gospel story, will remain unsaid.".

And days locked in the Studio and not letting anyone except his wife, GE is looking for scenic solutions for his, he was sure, the main picture that will complete his whole passion cycle, – "The crucifixion". He writes, reworks, rewrites, throws not satisfied with his sketches directly on the floor (kept the entire twentieth century the Swiss collectors, they are "decorated" with footprints), travels in the dissecting room to study the characteristics of dead flesh and asks friend a country boy to pose for him, hanging on the cross for the figure of the rogue.

Close to death


In the same year, die GE wife, Anna Petrovna, with whom they lived together for almost 35 years. "One good thing that this sorrow (the death of the second half – ed.) dropped me and not her"will report in one of the letters GE, but being next to the body of the deceased will not be able to get rid of surveillance, dispassionately fixing on top of the experience of grief and pain: here the forehead and chin she was already freezing, and not end up frozen nostrils still trembles some last the rest of my life, and it will certainly be used in "the Crucifixion"... But what comes out of his brush, does not satisfy GE. He ceases to sleep at night. It seems that nothing happens. The cross comes out too. can't decide whether to write it as a normal cross or in the shape of the letter "Tau". And then there's Tolstoy tells him that he saw the image, where the crucified feet against the ground... For two years, the number of pattern options, was written and rejected, already exceeds a dozen.

"GE has long struggled with crosses and suddenly decided to paint a picture without them– says Tatiana Lvovna Tolstaya, budding artist, daughter of the writer and, according to Stasov, "one of the most expensive darling GE", – Convicts brought to Calvary. They are waiting to cruel punishment. Christ in despair and horror compresses hands. Left – "unrepentant rogue"; he is naked, emphasized the bodily, on the face of the horror, but it's a physical fear of further pain. Right – "repentant thief", a young and sad; he was heartbroken because life is lived wrong."

"Golgotha" – the picture is deeply intimate. Her task is to understand that a person can experience on the very edge of earthly existence, the person who's going to step over the threshold.

To understand the robber


Perhaps the robbers are interested in GE a little less than Christ himself. Because they are sentenced to be crucified and to stand face to face with death. Yes, they convicted the innocent – but the stronger should be their fear of pain and death, or the horror of retribution for their actions, or terrified of the unknown. How to depict it on canvas. How to convey the horror or remorse, hope, or hopelessness by means of painting?

Once in the village near the station Pliska, Chernihiv province, where dwelt the artist, the murder occurred, almost the story of Cain and Abel: brother killed brother. Nikolai GE said: "I ran to where everything was going. At the entrance to the hut showed me the corpse. The killer was in the house, and the people did not dare to go in there. When witnesses came, I went along with them. The killer stood in the corner. For some reason, completely naked, stretched out, he stood still and feet had a strange way- with his heels apart. While he sobbed and repeated one and the same word: "Vodice... vodici..." this ugly man has a conscience. I remember it. It was useful to me for my Rogue..."

The critic will notice then that, with all his "steropodon", unrepentant robber shown by the artist with a kind of deep sympathy. GE sees in him the full measure of human despair, anguish, the impossibility of repentance.

"The man was beaten the whole night, could not like a rose..."


But most of all, and criticism, and the audience, of course, will excite the "non-canonical", devoid of any greatness and too humanized (at the expense of divine origin) by the image of Jesus. Picture of GE compared with "The Dead Christ"Hans Holbein the Younger – this is the altar the image of Prince Myshkin in Dostoevsky says: "Yes, from this picture from another faith may be lost!"

One of the fans of creativity Kyo complained, the artist, that Christ is he ugly. Kyo protested, retorted: "Christ, Madam, not a horse and not a cow, that he should be beautiful. I still don't know any better a human face, if it's not ugly, of course. And besides, the man was beaten the whole night, could not like a rose..."

Intelligent viewers, mourn for "lack of aesthetics" in the paintings of the passion cycle GE, avicelase have Thick nails. He said: they want "to write the execution and that it was like flowers".

Epilogue: predicted expressionism


"Calvary" completed in 1893 Nikolai GE, not having experienced a sudden shock, will die in the summer of 1894. His painting has long remained misunderstood: it felt unfinished, strained, labored, at the same time and not enough realistic, and – as it's too much. "Calvary" did not want to fit into the context of Russian art of the XIX century, with its much more traditional interpretations of the image from "The appearance of Christ to the people"Ivanova to "Christ and a sinner"Polenov and "Christ in desert"Kramskoy. Only towards the end of the twentieth century there will come a realization: Yes, because it is a direct anticipation of expressionism! Why, breaks through, like an electric current, the impact on the viewer, "Golgotha" and he GE treated better than a professional theorists: "The picture is not the word. It gives one minute and in this minute should be all and no, no pictures". And not with realistic paintings you need to put in one row"Calvary" is much akin to it is written exactly in the same 1893 year "Cry"Edvard Munch.

The silent cry of the Christ ("Oh my God! Oh, my God! Why have You forsaken me?.." in the Gospels Christ utters these words before you give up the Ghost on the cross, and the picture these words define the moment, apparently prior to the hoisting of the cross) gives grounds to accuse GE of only one thing in his picture really is too little space for hope. The moment of abandonment by God, who in the Gospels lasts a brief moment and does not negate the resurrection, here is "the last truth".

The Austrian Theodor Dabler, wrote a book called "From impressionism to expressionism", said: "The mouth of the people say: when someone hang up, he is going through at the last moment my whole life again. – This can only be expressionism". Not many of the works fit this definition rather than face their own death "Calvary" Nikolai GE.

Author: Anna Yesterday
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Religious scene

Style of art: Realism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1893

Size: 222.4×191 cm

Artwork in selections: 26 selections

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