Well, I would like to start with a picture of the famous Polish artist Jan Matejko, the author of the epic canvas “The Battle of Grunwald”, written by him in 1876 and located today at the National Museum in Warsaw. He painted this picture for three years, with a banker from Warsaw, David Rosenblum paid 45 thousands of gold for it and bought it even before it was finished!
The picture is indeed very large, almost nine meters long, and certainly impressive. And our Russian painter, I. Ye. Repin, spoke of it in this way:
“The mass of overwhelming material in the Battle of Grunwald.” There are so many interesting, live, and screaming pictures in all corners that you simply wear out with your eyes and head, perceiving the whole mass of this colossal work. There is no empty place: both in the background and in the distance - everywhere new situations, compositions, movements, types, expressions open up. It amazes like an endless picture of the universe. ”
And this is true, but it all hurt on the canvas. Different episodes of the battle, which took place at different times and not in one place, were merged together. But we can somehow agree with this, bearing in mind that this is, so to speak, a historical allegory. Especially since the picture in the sky depicts a kneeling saint Stanislav, the heavenly patron of Poland, who is praying to God for giving the Poles victory.
Grunwald battle. Jan Matejko.
But here the horses on the canvas are obviously small, and these are knightly horses, destriers, specially bred in order to carry on them riders in full knightly arms. And you see what kind of horse is under Prince Vitovt, in the very center of the canvas. And why is the knight Marcin of Wrocimowitz on his right wearing a characteristic helmet on his head ... of the XVI century, and not the beginning of the fifteenth? Or, say, Zavisha Black, a knight from Gabrovo. Probably the most famous knight of the Polish kingdom, always walking in black attire. But on the canvas he is wearing clothes of a different color. Is the black paint over? And for some reason he took the spear obviously in the tournament, and not in combat! The Master of the Teutonic Order dies at all at the hands of a half-naked warrior, dressed for some reason in a lion's skin, and far away, in the background, the back "wings" of the Polish "winged hussars" are clearly visible, again as if later could be! It is clear that art critics will tell me that this canvas is “the most characteristic example of romantic nationalism” and they will be right. But why all this most could not be drawn with complete historical accuracy and without any “romantic” fantasies ?! Moreover, almost everything is known about the battle, and in the samples of armor and weapons in the then Polish museums, the deficit was not observed! So, looking at this picture, you are somewhat “exhausted by the head”, and you want to ask the author, why so?
But to answer the same question "why so", given in relation to the picture already by I.E. Replay "Barge Haulers on the Volga" will be quite easy. After all, the author obviously wanted to present a single mass phenomenon to him, and since he was a talented person, he did it. Meanwhile, this picture, although it does not contain direct fiction, really shows their work is not at all the same as it actually is, and that this is really so you can learn by reading the monograph by I. A. Shubin “Volga and Volga Shipping , published in the USSR back in 1927 year.
And it turns out that these barge haulers worked in a completely different way. Up along the Volga, with their feet on the ground, they did not walk, and that would have been impossible. Even if you take the left bank, even if the right bank - all the same along the water you cannot go far! The Coriolis force right bank undermine! And so, on the barges, the upper deck was therefore arranged to be even - we are talking about barges, that they were self-propelled upward, because, how else were the floats and tow barges. She had a big drum at the stern. A rope was wound on the drum, to which three anchors clung at once.
As it was necessary to go up the river, people got into the boat, took a rope with an anchor and floated upstream on it, and there they threw the anchor. Behind him is another and third, while there is enough rope. And here we had to work barge haulers. They attached themselves to the rope with their rooks and then walked along the deck from the bow to the stern. The rope gave up the slack, and it was rolled up on the drum. That is, the barge haulers came back, and the deck under their feet went ahead - that’s how these vessels moved!
Thus, the barge floated up to the first anchor, which was raised, and after that also the second, and then the third was raised. It turns out that the barge, as it were, was crawling up the rope against the stream. Of course, this work was not easy, like any physical work, but not the way Repin showed it! In addition, every burgher artel, hiring for work, negotiated grubs. And that's how much they were given only one meal: no less than two pounds of bread per person per day, half a pound of meat, and “how much to eat” fish (and crucians were not considered fish at all!), And how much oil was scrupulously counted sugar, salt, tea, tobacco, cereals - all this was stipulated and fixed by the corresponding document. Everything else on the deck could still stand and a barrel of red caviar. Whoever wanted - could have approached, cut off the top crust from his loaf of bread and eat with spoons as you like. After lunch, it was supposed to sleep for two hours, it was considered a sin to work. And only if the pilot drunk planted the barge aground, only then the artel had to climb into the water, as Repin wrote, and take the barge away from the shore. And then ... before that, they again agreed, for how much they would do it, and the merchant would set vodka for it! And a good barge could earn so much money for a working summer season that it could not work in the winter, and neither his family nor he did not live in misery. That was common, typical! And the fact that there is a picture in Repin - this is a single thing - a rarity! And why he wrote it this way is also clear: to cause the audience pity for the working people. At that time, the Russian intelligentsia had such a fashion - to have compassion on those engaged in physical labor, and Ilya Efimovich was far from alone in showing their sufferings as “compassionate” as possible!
Barge Haulers on the Volga. Ilya Repin.
Against the background of this kind of symbolic work, the battle canvases of Soviet artists, depicting the “Ice Battle” with the drowning of “knight dogs” in the polynyas, look like a normal phenomenon. But artist P.D. Korin very talentedly and equally untruthfully portrayed both Prince Alexander himself on his famous triptych (“Northern Ballad”, “Alexander Nevsky”, “Ancient Tale”) and the name “Alexander Nevsky” named by him. It is clear that the matter is here, as always in the "little things", but these little things are significant. The crosshair of the sword is “not that”, the armor on the prince is not from that era, like the plate on the legs. Western knights have leggings that had hook-and-bolt fasteners marked only at the end of the 13th century. And on his triptych - the middle, and even the prince and in the latest fashion sabatons, and chased kneecaps on him, and this, judging by his effigy, even the knights of Britain did not have. And the prince’s yushman on the torso (there is one in the Armory), and from the 16th century, could never appear in 1242. “While working on a triptych, the artist consulted with historians, employees of the Historical Museum, where he wrote chain mail, armor, helmet from nature - all the equipment of the protagonist, whose image he recreated on canvas in just three weeks,” was written on one of the modern Internet sites. But this is just a "figure of speech." Because it is not difficult to make sure that either he consulted with the wrong historians, or he looked at the armor in the museum, or he didn’t really care. Although from the point of view of mastery of the execution of claims to him, of course not!
Today we have grown a new galaxy of already modern painters, and they have much less blunders than before. Less ... but finally they have not disappeared for some reason so far. Just look at the canvas of the artist V.I. Nesterenko "Getting rid of troubles", written by him in 2010 year. “The historical plot required a unique performance, where life-sized riders, archers and knights immerse us in the atmosphere of the seventeenth century. The painting is made in the traditions of Russian and European realism, causing associations with classic battle works. ” Well written, isn't it? Well - the picture is really quite large - an eight-meter canvas, over which the artist worked for four whole years. And unlike the Battle of Grunwald, there are horses of what size you need, armor, and ammunition are written out so carefully and, you can say, lovingly, that it’s time to study the history of military affairs from them. However, only its material part, because everything else in this picture is nothing more than a set of absurdities, one incoherent to the other!
Thus, it is known for certain what moment is depicted on this canvas, namely, the attack on the 300 Poles of the cavalry noblemen together with Minin, who jumped on the enemy, and the word “horse” must be emphasized. On the canvas, we see riders interspersed with infantrymen, and, judging by what positions they are depicted and how cantermen Minin’s comrades rush at the enemy, the question arises, how did they all turn out to be here at the same time ?! On the left, archers: some with a berdysh, some with a musket and they do not run, but stand. But right next to them the cavalry jumps and it is not clear how the Poles allowed themselves to be close to their enemies, while horsemen, along the aisles left in advance for them, did not reach them at the most decisive moment. And, directly behind the riders, we again see infantrymen shooting at the enemy. What, they, along with the horses, reached the position of the Poles, and then stood in a pose and shoot? It turns out this way, however, and this is not all ... The Poles in the right-hand corner are shown by some ridiculous crowd: horsemen are mixed up with infantry, but this could not be by definition, since the infantry never mixed with cavalry. Polish hussars had to either stand in front and meet the attack with a blow to the blow, but not with the spears raised towards the sky (well, they are not fools, in actual fact!). Or go under the protection of pikemen and musketeers. Moreover, the former must stop the cavalry of the enemy with a palisade peak, and the latter must shoot over their heads with muskets. And then the artist portrayed the gang is not a gang, but a crowd of some kind of “stupid” in Polish armor, which are clearly not worth the trouble to beat. That is, he would draw only Russian horsemen led by Minin and the Poles demoralized by the attack. And that's it! But no, for some reason the artist was also drawn to the infantry ...
It is clear that there are many banners in the picture, which are turned to face the viewer - after all, they are the images of Orthodox saints. And why the banner in the hands of Minin, and why he spread his hands in such a sacrificial way is also understandable - these are all symbols. But ... take such a banner and gallop with him on horseback. You will see that it will develop in the course of movement, and not at all as depicted in the picture. Strong wind? But why then hang the Polish flag in the very center of the canvas? Symbolism, of course. But isn't it too much here?
It is also surprising (and this oddity is also present in the picture of Jan Matejko), as in both artists archers act on their canvases. In Mateiko, a man with a bow is trying to shoot him right in the crowd, and he is aiming somewhere upwards, which clearly indicates his weak mind. V.I. Nesterenko, again, only two shoot directly at the target, while others are somewhere in the sky. Yes, that was how they shot, but not those who were in the front ranks of the cavalry, jumping on the enemy. These, then, chose their goals directly in front of themselves, and why it should be so clear to everyone: why kill someone away, if the enemy is under your nose? So although the picture at first glance makes a strong impression, the author just wants to say it with the words of K.S. Stanislavsky: "I do not believe!" I do not believe and that's it!
Of course, they can argue that here, they say, symbolism, that the author wanted to show pathos, heroics, unity of the people ... But if pathos and symbolism dominate everything else, then why write out so carefully the bells on the harness? The reference to the fact that most people do not know this is clearly from our recent past. Like, for the ignorant, and so it will come down, and the most important is the idea! But do not get away! Today it just will not get away, because behind the window is the age of the Internet and people are beginning to listen to the opinions of specialists, including historians, and get offended when in the picture they, say, together, show “sprawling cranberries” of oak! In addition, it simply diminishes the heroism of our ancestors, and in fact the artist should ideally strive for the opposite! And, by the way, we have battle painting and sculpture from someone to learn! Do you know who? North Koreans! This is where the monument is, that the battle canvases, the accuracy in details is simply amazing. If the commander has a Mauser in his hand, this is K-96, and if the machine gun ZB-26 is drawn, then yes, it really is up to the very last detail. And for some reason they can, but here we have again some difficulties and fantasies. It is clear that in the sculpture without obvious symbols can not do. “Motherland” at the top of Mamayev Kurgan, with a revolver in his hand, would have looked just silly, but this is exactly the case when symbolism is more important than realism.
But why artist S. Prisekin in his painting “Ice Battle” drew a sword with a “flaming” blade and a crossbow with a “Nuremberg knob” - it is not clear! The first one is fantasy fit for illustration in the fairy tale about Kashchei the Immortal, and the second one in 1242 simply did not exist! There are also cuirasses, and halberds of the 17th century, and helmets of the wrong era. And everything is written out very carefully! What for?! Why draw something that really did not exist, when any idea and symbol can be fully expressed through real things and well known to specialists. Let them then become known to everyone, right?
So the characters are symbols, but nobody has canceled the truth of life, and I really want our artists who attempt to historical painting in their patriotic impulses not to forget about it, but to consult with good specialists!