The smallest details of the picture, painted with utmost care and archaeological authenticity - the clothes of the warriors, their weapons, the decoration of the horses - are subordinate to the general idea of the work and, without diverting attention to the direction of "archeology", only reinforce the general impression of a complete life and historical the veracity of this truly folk canvas.
Wonderful paintings. L., 1966.S. 298
Wonderful paintings. L., 1966.S. 298
Art and history. A few words for those who read articles in “VO” hastily, through a line, or read in them something that has never been there. This article is by no means an attempt to insult, belittle or belittle significance for the Russian culture by the paintings of “The Athletes” (yes, this is the name of this famous painting, and not the “Three Athletes” at all, as they began to call it colloquially later!), written by Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov. But this is also the answer to the eulogy contained in the epigraph to this picture. It is quite obvious that a talented artist has the right to depict on his canvases samples of material culture very far from reality, as Leonardo da Vinci did in the painting “The Battle of Angiar”, for example, and that his art could well be conditional if this art is real . Now, if the artist is not too talented and does not put any special ideas into the picture, then he should portray everything photographically accurately. Another thing is if he knows how to convey the spirit of the phenomenon with his brush, to fill his canvas with some otherworldly power, then any liberties will be excusable to him. Not being his goal, that's all!
However, knowing this, we should also know how reliably he depicted certain objects from the same "archeology" on this canvas! And can they be trusted from a historical point of view. Moreover, the picture "Heroes", like perhaps no other, allows you to do this.
The first sketch of the painting "The Heroes", 1871-1874
First, a little history. Vasnetsov hatched the idea of a picture of the heroes for more than twenty years. And he said of her like this: “Maybe I did not always work on“ The Knights ”with due diligence and tension, but they were relentless in front of me, only my heart was drawn to them and my hand reached out! This is my creative duty. ” The time was such that artists of the rank of Vasnetsov even painted insignificant details from life, and even several times. Used artifacts Armory chambers of the Kremlin, and to pose for them was considered an honor, and considerable.
So Ilya Muromets for his “Heroes” V. M. Vasnetsov wrote from the Abramtsevo peasant-cabman Ivan Petrov. In the role of the prototype of the young Alyosha Popovich, the son of the philanthropist Savva Mamontov, Andrei, on whose estate Vasnetsov visited Abramtsevo with his family, acted. As for Dobrynia, the art historian Nikolai Prakhov believed that his face is a collective image of the Vasnetsovs - the artist’s father, his uncle and partly the painter himself. Although there is such a version that Dobrynya was written by the artist V.D. Polenova. As for the horses, everything is simple: they all belonged to Savva Mamontov, so the artist was always at hand.
Etude Vasnetsova for the painting "Heroes". 1876 year
When the canvas was presented for public viewing in 1898, it was appreciated by both the public and criticism. And she was so struck by the famous collector P.M. Tretyakov that he stood before her for a long time and immediately offered to buy. At Vasnetsov’s personal exhibition in March-April 1899, she also attracted the attention of the public, and this is not surprising. Such power and originality blows from her that you just feel them physically, it’s enough just to stand a little near this canvas.
Previously, the heroes of epics were considered to be exclusively fictional characters, but historians have found that the “real” Ilya Muromets, for example, was born in the city of Murom in the XII century. Under the name Elijah, he was buried in the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, and in 1643 he was canonized. His relics were preserved, according to which it even became clear that he had problems, and his height was about 182 cm. At the same time, the heroes could meet together only in the artist’s painting. When Ilya was young, Dobrynya was already an old man, and Alyosha Popovich was still a boy. By the way, in reality, the hero Alexander Popovich was by no means a priest - a “priest’s son”, but a Rostov boyar, fought in the squads of Vsevolod the Big Nest, Konstantin Vsevolodovich and Mstislav Stary, and died in the battle of Kalka in 1223.
Well, now let's take a closer look at this picture from the point of view of weaponry, that is, those samples of weapons and armor that are depicted on it. Let's start with the figure on the far left - Dobryni Nikitich. On his head is the so-called "helmet with the Deesis" or "Greek cap." And he is known for the only model that is in the Armory of the Moscow Kremlin and it is obvious that it was from him that he was painted. The helmet dates from the XIII-XIV centuries, but in Byzantium could be used before. In the inventory of 1687, it is said of him as follows: “The hat with Deesis is iron, the grasses are made of small gold and silver. Decrepit, not armed. According to the current census of 1687 and upon inspection, that cap against the previous census books came together. The price is sixty rubles, and the previous book describes the fifth. ” On the crown of the helmets, notches and gilding were made images along with inscriptions in Greek. You can see the figures of the Almighty, the Virgin, John the Baptist, two Guardian Angels, two Cherubs and two Evangelists, one of which is St. Nicholas the Wonderworker.
Such a helmet could be used with a chain of barmitsa, and Vasnetsov painted it. Well, the choice of helmet type is obvious. Most likely, the artist wanted to show the cultural connection between Russia and Byzantium, as well as the religiosity of the hero, whose helmet is not for nothing adorned with images of saints. The appearance of Dobrynia is amazing. If we look at the drawings and engravings in a magazine such as Niva, we will see what exactly the Scandinavians and Germans, the heroes of the Song of the Nibelungs, and not the Slavs portrayed at that time. Put on him a helmet with wings, and in front of us will be just Thor or Odin.
The armor is very interesting in Dobryn. First of all, this is plate armor made of metal rectangles sewn onto blue fabric. Then he is wearing chain mail with short wide sleeves. But he also has his forearms pulled into chain mail, with metal bracelets at his wrist.
The size of the plates and their shape do not allow us to identify this armor either as a collar or as anything else. And even more so for the XII - XIII centuries. "Warrior era" chain mail is completely "out of date" with sleeves to the wrist, and even skin-tight. In a word, here we are dealing with the imagination of the author, although it practically does not catch the eye. For some reason, he did not tie Dobrynya to this footwear, although he could have done it.
Singer with sleeves from the State Historical Museum, No. 68257. Korh A.S. Kulikovo battle. 600 years State Historical Museum. M. Vneshtorgizdat, 1980
The shield of Dobryny is more striking because it is red, and even strewn with plaques. Their very abundance is doubtful. Such findings are unknown. But umbon is especially atypical. It should have a hemispherical or cylindrical-conical shape, and its size should be such that a hand bent into a fist hides under it.
Very interesting sword in Dobrynia. This is a typical Scandinavian sword, with a three-part pommel and a crosshair slightly curved towards the point. The pattern on it and on the crosshairs is typically Norman. There are many similar swords, like umbons, in the “Petersen typology” - the encyclopedic publication “Norwegian Viking Age Swords” (Jan Petersen “Norwegian Viking Age Swords. Typochronological Study of Viking Age Weapons.” St. Petersburg. Alpharet, 2005). It seems that Vasnetsov did not see anything bad in the "Norman theory", or at least did not think that for some reason it might be shameful for our hero to use a sword of "Scandinavian origin." True, the exact type of sword “according to Petersen” in the picture is difficult to determine, but that this is a Scandinavian sword is undoubted.
In general, in my opinion, Dobrynya in the picture (if you do not take into account the shield without a umbone) looks like ... a Scandinavian king, who served in Byzantium. There he acquired plate armor, characteristic of the Greeks, and two chain mail, worn one under the other, a rich Greek helmet, and he kept his own sword with a “native” gilt handle.
The figure of this hero is dressed more simply by the artist: chain mail, though with a beautiful brooch on his left shoulder, a very simple helmet. It can be seen that he has a quiver of arrows behind him, which means there is a bow, but he is not visible. The main thing that the viewer draws attention to is a spear and an impressive mace with small and quite fearless spikes. The spear is also very impressive, but there are questions to it. Ilya is a horseman, a knight, which means he must have a horseman spear. That is, to have a tip ... “wings” so that after a spear strike the spear would not pierce the “target of the attack” through, and its owner would have a chance (albeit small!) To extract it and reuse it. Of course, spearheads without wings are also known. However, already in the cavalry of the Carolingians they were used without fail. That is, ideally, the spearhead itself should already be and must have a crosshair. And Vasnetsov could well draw it. But for some reason he didn’t ...
Similarly, a mace that hangs at Muromets’s wrist has a completely fantastic look. Moreover, apparently it was the image of this mace that should be considered the brand name of Vasnetsov - once he has drawn it, he repeats it again and again. We see this mace in his painting “The Battle of the Scythians with the Slavs”, written by him in 1881; armed with it (though without thorns) was the “Knight at the Crossroads” of 1882. Although on his earlier canvas “After the Battle of Igor Svyatoslavich and the Polovtsy” of 1880, we see very impressive spikes in the mace depicted there.
It turns out that the artist deliberately sought to give the appearance of Muromets the appearance of the greatest possible peace. That is, the "spikes" on his mace, although there are, are so small that they do not play any special role. But the most interesting is that this mace of his is purely fabulous, or rather “epic,” because such weapons do not exist in reality. That is, pear-shaped maces are known, but they have completely different proportions. Vasnetsov could see the Turkish ceremonial maces of similar shapes in the Armory of the Moscow Kremlin. Their appearance clearly sunk into his soul, and he developed it into something that did not really exist, but which produced a very reliable impression.
Now imagine for a moment that the artist would arm Ilya with a real, museum mace. Would she look in the picture? Definitely not. Or it would be an awesome-looking weapon studded with spikes, more likely talking about the bloodthirstiness of its owner, rather than about its peacefulness, or ... a “ball on a stick”, completely incompatible with the heroic appearance of Ilya. Ingenious? Yes, brilliant, although not historical. Not historical - but epic!
The top of this mace close-up
Here’s the shield ... it’s clearly round, metal with a umber and also clearly migrated here from the picture “The Knight at the Crossroads”, but ... the thing is, there were no such shields in Russia at that “heroic time”! This is a typical Turkish Kalkan, which spread in our 1899th century, so here an almond-shaped, large, “scarlet” shield would be more suitable. Well, here's something like shields from the Bilibino Red Horseman of XNUMX and his other warriors. The picture would not get worse.
A pear-shaped mace from Dean, India. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. On the arm of Ilya Muromets, she obviously would not have looked!
Mace with spikes, Italy, Milan, second half of the XNUMXth century. Wallace Collection, London. And such a mace would also not look, although it really existed.
The last third hero is the youngest and, apparently, therefore dressed in the “youngest” armor for Russia. He wears a helmet and a chain-plate armor of a clearly eastern pattern. Well, and, of course, the bow is beautifully written out, again from the Armory collection.
Helmet XVIII - XIX centuries. India or Persia. Weight 1780,4 g (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)
It is interesting that on his neck he has a hryvnia and a chain, and a ring with a stone on his finger, and a ring, and his belt with a set is rich, that is, Alesha loves to have a fake from Vasnetsov, and even without that, if he succeeded in appearance, and how then in this case, “good fellow” and without a beautiful “pattern”? Everyone writes about the harp at the saddle, but somehow the crosshairs and the top of the sword have some similarities with these details of the sword of Charles the Great “Jauiez” somehow no one paid attention, although there is such a similarity. True, the ends of the crosshairs of the French sword are clearly longer.
Could Alyosha be dressed differently? Yes you can. Here, for example, as in the illustration from the book of A.V. Whiskey "A historical description of clothing and weapons of the Russian troops, ed. Viskovatova A.V., Part 1. St. Petersburg. The military. typ., 1841-1862. Fig. 95. " As you can see, his bow is exactly the same, and his saber is clearly of an oriental type. The armor is a bandar with a mantle, and on the head is a “paper hat”. But, in principle, this would give absolutely nothing to reveal his image, there was simply a painted illustration “from the Whiskey”
We do not know what the artist was thinking about, creating this ingenious canvas. He left no recollections of how he painted this picture. But the thought involuntarily comes to mind that Dobrynya symbolizes Byzantium and the Varangians, Alyosha is the East, from which the eastern weapons and the traditions of on-line combat came to us, but Ilya Muromets embodies the unifying force of the Russian people, it stands between the West and the East, the most powerful, powerful and wise.
So yes, there are paintings in which historicity is sacrificed for epicity, but if the master writes them, their quality does not suffer at all, we just understand that the artist has shifted a number of emphasis for greater expressiveness and ... that’s it! The idea dominates everything and masterfully dominates at the same time!
Now imagine that Vasnetsov would not be ... what he was, but would draw three warriors of different ages of the same time and belonging to the same culture. This could be an excellent illustration of the Black Grave burial or warriors in the “helmets of Yaroslav Vsevolodovich” - those who are richer, who are poorer. The whole three could have either round ones with a umbone or almond-shaped shields and ... what would we end up with? And would these heroes be compared with the heroes we know ?!