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"The Morning of the Streltsy Execution" by Vasily Surikov - Painting Description

07 March 2022
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"The Morning of the Streltsy Execution" by Vasily Surikov - Painting Description


The Morning of the Streltsy Execution - Vasily Ivanovich Surikov. 1878-1881. Oil on canvas. 223 x 383,5 cm


V.I. Surikov's works represent the top of Russian historical painting of the second half of the nineteenhh century. Once the artist was struck by the image - a candle lit at daytime - as a symbol of tragedy and doom. The master of large-scale historical canvases nurtured it in himself for many years until he embodied the theme of the massacre of the archers in the painting "The Morning of the Streltsy Execution". The light of a candle hand still alive, dim in the bluish air of a gloomy morning, was associated with execution. The central plot line of the picture and its main emotional core is the opposition of the crossed views of the archer with a red beard and Tsar Peter. An implacable gaze flaming with hatred beats through the whole space of the picture, that collides with the angry and equally implacable gaze of the king.

Fragment of the Picture The Morning of the Streltsy Execution


The architectural design of this canvas is critical. The lonely Kremlin tower correlates with the lonely figure of the Tsar; the second tower, located closed, unites the crowd of observers, boyars and foreigners into one whole; the even formation of soldiers exactly repeats the line of the Kremlin wall. The artist deliberately moved all the structures to the Execution Ground, using the compositional technique of bringing plans together and creating the effect of a huge crowd of people. The cathedral continues and crowns this crowd of people, but the central tent of the Church of the Intercession did not seem to fit into the space: it is "cut off" by the upper edge of the picture and symbolizes the image of Russia, beheaded by Peter I.
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