Kramskoy Ivan – “Mermaids”
At the first traveling exhibition, which opened in 1871 in the halls of the Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg, Kramskoy declared himself an original group of works, the center of which was the romantic canvas “Mermaids” on the plot of Gogol’s story “May Night”
The painting was conceived in Ukraine, in the village of Khoten, Kharkov province, where Kramskoy arrived at the suggestion of his young friend, a talented landscape painter Fyodor Vasiliev. From this “delicate” (in the words of the critic and art historian Adrian Prakhov), the task of depicting mermaids – Kramskoy emerged with honor. Mermaids are a kind of meditation on the atmosphere of the Ukrainian night landscape, ancient folk legends, and their poetic interpretation in Gogol’s prose. Immersed in melancholic silence, the disembodied figures of girls flooded with moonlight are detached from the world of feelings, from the bustle of the day, immersed in an atmosphere of contemplation, silence and inner concentration.
The specific landscape is transformed by the mysterious atmosphere of a moonlit night, reality is intertwined with fantasy. Kramskoy preferred anticipation to action, an expanded narrative – a capacious poetic metaphor, and these qualities later became permanent and defining properties of his art. They also distinguish the ideologue of the Partnership from the socially sharpened, “literary” art of many Itinerant artists.
Year of painting: 1871.
Dimensions of the painting: 88 x 132 cm.
Writing technique: oil.
Genre: mythological painting.
Gallery: State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.