Military Review

“I don’t know if this is a good picture or a bad one, but it seems that the real one”

“I don’t know if this is a good picture or a bad one, but it seems that the real one”

Historical the paintings are the keepers of the cultural memory of the past. Those that are written in hot pursuit of events are especially valuable because they give an idea of ​​the artist and era.

"Their grief was my grief"

The canvas "Defense of Sevastopol", created during the Great Patriotic War by Alexander Alexandrovich Deineka (1899 - 1969), actually made him famous. The picture was painted for the exhibition "The Red Army in the fight against the Nazi invaders," which opened on February 23 1943 in Moscow.

Most likely, the work on the picture did not take much time. The Committee on Arts at the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR in December 1942 entered into an agreement with the artist. According to this document, the sketch of Deinek's work had to be submitted by December 28, and the final version - by February 1 1943. It was assumed that the canvas, painted in oil on canvas, would be the size of 1,5 - 1,8 square. meter As a fee the artist was entitled 20 thousand rubles.

Judging by the memoirs of Deineka, the idea of ​​a big picture of the heroism of the Soviet soldiers appeared in him after a trip to the front in February 1942 in the Yukhnov district, not far from Moscow. Being close to the front line, he made sketches for his future graphic series “On the roads of war”. After returning, the artist wrote a series of watercolors "Moscow Military". He also supervised the poster shop at the Moscow Military District and collaborated on the TASS Windows.

For the first time the idea to create a canvas about the Sevastopol defense arose in Deineka after the Soviet troops left the city in early July 1942. The message about this greatly upset the artist, who knew Sevastopol well and repeatedly visited it. Views of the city and its inhabitants were represented in some of his pre-war works. So in 1932 - 1934. He created a series of "Sevastopol watercolors" and the picture "Parachutist over the Sea." In 1937, the well-known work Future Pilots appeared.

Deineka recalled that he "loved this seaside city even in its youthful years, loved its cheerful inhabitants, its blue sea, the green of parks, the stairs of the streets."

Deineka could learn about the feat of the defenders of Sevastopol from radio and press reports. The story of how five Red Navy men defended 23 kilometers from Sevastopol near the village of Duvankoy (now Verhnesadovoe) became widely known. On November 7, 1941, they accepted their last battle, first from 7 and then from 15 tanks. Later, on October 23, 1942, by decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, political instructor N.D. Filchenkov and sailors I.M. Krasnoselsky, D.S. Odintsov, Yu.K. Parshin, V.G. Tsibulko received posthumously the stars of Heroes of the Soviet Union. By order of the commander of the Black Sea fleet they were forever enlisted in the lists of their military unit.

About the time before creating the picture, Deinek remembered: “In a difficult 1942 year, I returned from the front. Sevastopol was captured by the fascists. In one German newspaper, I saw a terrible picture. The handsome city was disfigured. I presented my“ future pilots ”who also stood up protecting my hometown, women and children who recognized the horror of the blockade. Their grief was my grief. "

The artist didn’t remember the period of work on the canvas: “This time ... seemed to fall out of my mind. I lived with one desire - to paint a picture, I felt that it had to be real, full of superhuman tension of the battle”.

Art style Deineka fit into the concept of a new romanticism, which was manifested in the film "Defense of Sevastopol". The central object of the artist's work was a man, the whole range of his emotions, expressed in various plastic outlines, gestures, silhouettes. "The romanticism of Alexander Deineka should be seen as an attempt to smooth the conflict between the aesthetic ideal of the era, which he as an artist sought, and the myth-making ideal, which the state regime imposed on him." During the war, such opposition is smoothed out, real heroes appear in life, corresponding to the artist's romantic ideal.

The picture shows an episode of the battle on a narrow strip of the embankment. Sailing paratroopers in white uniforms go to the counter. The defenders of Sevastopol, "like fairy-tale warriors who emerged from the sea," boldly swoop down on the enemy’s superior number and weaponry. The work clearly expresses the "pathetic expression of the highest voltage of battle".

From the point of view of real events, this battle could have occurred in June 1942, when the Germans broke through to the outskirts of the city at the North Bay. But the artist created a generalizing image of war, without correlation with specifics.

The main figure of the canvas is a sailor of an athletic build depicted in the foreground with a bunch of grenades in his hands, ready to throw it into the midst of the advancing German soldiers. Before us is a warrior-hero with bloody stains on a courageous face, leading a battle for his native land with calm fearlessness. Initially, on the sketch of the picture, this figure was absent. At first, the artist hoped to make the center of the image a battle between a sailor and a German soldier (depicted in the background). Interestingly, to create an image of a strong and muscular central male figure Deineka invited a familiar female athlete with a corresponding physique.

His comrades are advancing to the left and behind the central figure of a sailor. They rushed forward. In the left part of the picture is the figure of a sailor with a naked torso and with a grenade in his right hand. He makes a U-turn to throw. Another sailor froze motionless on the run, struck down by an enemy bullet. Hand-to-hand combat begins ahead and to the right of it - the sailor and the German soldier clashed in mortal combat, waving rifle butts at each other. A wave of sailors in white uniforms collides with a dark green enemy wave. There are dead and wounded on both sides.

Negative characters of the picture are ambiguous. Enemy soldiers boldly go in rows into battle. But there is no truth behind them. The figures of the murdered Germans carry a certain meaning. The posture of a soldier lying in the foreground with a bloody head and blond hair symbolizes "a bitter epiphany that came down at the hour of reckoning, a feeling of guilt for what he had done, in the outstretched hands of a dead man, as if frozen in prayer for mercy."

The background of the battle is tragic and anxious. The artist showed the atmosphere of pitch hell. The top of the picture is occupied by a dark red sky, crowded with fire and smoke. White buildings stand in ruins. Below is the Black Sea in lead-gray color. Over the dilapidated city dives "Junkers". His goal - sailing in the bay of Soviet ships. They are firing at a German plane. On the embankment stands a padded German tank, buried down the muzzle. In general, military equipment is presented in the background. For the artist, the most important thing was to show the clash of human characters.

The plot of the picture is built in two plans. On the one hand, we have before us a specific episode of the Great Patriotic War connected with the defense of Sevastopol. On the other hand, thanks to colors and shades, the inner meaning of the canvas appears - the struggle between the forces of light and darkness.

It is possible to distinguish antique motifs in the images created by the artist. After all, the ancient Greek Chersonesos once stood on the site of Sevastopol. Soviet sailors in white robes, defending on the embankment of marble, may be associated with ancient Greek warriors who, in the distant past, defended their high culture from dark hostile forces.

"This is not the best of what he wrote"

Reviews in the press on the "Defense of Sevastopol" were varied. The authors of some publications praised the artist for the "dramatic emotional expressiveness" of heroic images. Others, on the contrary, subjected the picture to criticism for "inconclusiveness" and "abstractness". The artist himself assessed his creation as follows: “I don’t know whether this is a good painting or a bad one, but it seems that it’s true. I would like to see my other paintings as well.

The issue of awarding Deineka was discussed in February-March of 1944 at several meetings of the Committee on Stalin Prizes. From the artists section of the artwork, Deineka was represented by I.E. Grabar After viewing the paintings at the Tretyakov Gallery, 25 candidates were nominated, including Deineka with his creations Defense of Sevastopol, Shot As and Transport Restored.

Grabar called him a "master", who has his "clearly expressed, unlike any other style." But at the same time he noted that on the canvas “Defense of Sevastopol” the lying figure of the defeated German turned out to be disproportionate: “short legs with a terribly long body”. At the same time, the directors F.M. Ermler and A.P. Dovzhenko gave a positive assessment of the picture.

Critical remarks about other works of Deineka were expressed by sculptors V.I. Mukhina, S.D. Merkulov and director Dovzhenko. Therefore, at the next meeting of the Committee from the artist’s works, only the “Defense of Sevastopol” was discussed. Chairman of the Committee for the Arts MB Khrapchenko noted that the picture is more like a mural or poster. Director of the Moscow Art Theater I.M. Moskvin stressed the incompleteness of the canvas, which, apparently, was created in a hurry. The artist A.M. Gerasimov, pointing out that the picture, "strong in temperament," unfortunately, contains many "annoying mistakes." First of all, Gerasimov paid attention to poorly written out central figures: the far left sailor throwing a grenade has the top of a “giant” and a “torso from a boy”; the lying figure of a German soldier is depicted with "legs from a boy" and "body from a peasant". Writer A.A. Fadeev expressed the opinion of many of those present about Deineka's work and, in particular, about this picture: “This is not the best of what he wrote. I love him as an artist, but I consider this picture to be a failure.” Despite the subsequent statements by the directors Dovzhenko and Ermler in favor of Deineka’s canvas, the artist’s majority still excluded them from the list of candidates for the prize.

"The picture is complicated by type"

Despite the fact that the “Defense of Sevastopol” was critically apprehended by many participants in the meeting and did not nominate for the Stalin Prize, the images of this canvas were firmly established in the cultural memory of the Soviet society about the war, clearly demonstrating the bitter struggle for Sevastopol. Reproductions of the picture were distributed in millions of copies, published in brochures, books, albums, and history books. The Soviet people knew the remarkable creation of the artist well.

Critics in the Stalin Prize Committee were traditionally thought and did not understand the design and innovative approach of Deineka. He used in the “Defense of Sevastopol” a method of large-scale approximation of individual heroes, simultaneous comparison of distant scenes with a large-scale action of the first plan. Deineka himself described this approach in the following way: “Defense of Sevastopol” - the picture is complex in type, which provided material for its fragmentation. In general, in this case, the fragment gives an aesthetic and cognitive benefit, as it brings the heroes closer to the viewer, makes it possible to get to know them better, to see their features better - it’s like a movie when from afar, a person gradually goes towards you. You see him as staffing, then as a silhouette of the whole figure and, finally, a close-up with all her character. "

Today, the painting is kept in the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, where it was received in 1949 by the decision of the Committee for Arts at the Council of Ministers of the USSR. Up to this point, besides the exhibition in Moscow, the work in 1947 was exhibited along with some other paintings by the artist in Vienna. One of the central Austrian newspapers noted that in this canvas Deineka "proved to be a skilled battle-painter".

The exhibition history of the "Defense of Sevastopol" is quite diverse in its geography. If in 1950 - 1980e. the picture was repeatedly exhibited at various exhibitions only in Moscow and Leningrad, then in the 1990-s and 2000-s. in addition to Russian capitals, it was taken to foreign exhibitions. Deineka canvas was exhibited in galleries and museums of Kassel, Prague, Turku, Stockholm, Jerusalem, Verona, New York, Bilbao.


1. Deineka. Painting. M., 2010. C. 133.
2. Alexander Alexandrovich Deineka. Life, art, time. Literary and artistic heritage. M., 1974. C. 322.
3. Nenarokomova I. "I love big plans ...". Artist Alexander Deineka. M., 1987. C. 157.
4. Sevastopol: Encyclopedic reference. Sevastopol, 2000. C. 178.
5. Alexander Alexandrovich Deineka. Life, art, time. C. 161.
6. Archive of the city of Sevastopol. F. P-183. Op.1. D. 356. L. 38.
7. Alexander Alexandrovich Deineka. Life, art, time. C. 161.
8. Ibid.
9. Ravinskaya V.B. The concept of a new romanticism in the national monumental painting of the thirties - fifties: On the example of A.A. Deineki. Diss. for the degree of Candidate art history. M., 2002. C. 97-98, 108.
10. Suzdalev P.K. A.A. Deineka. Defense of Sevastopol. L., 1967. C. 6, 8.
11. Sysoev V.P. Alexander Deineka // Alexander Deineka. Sat: 2 T. T. 1. M., 1989. C. 220.
12. Ibid. C. 216-217.
13. In the creative arsenal of A.A. Deineka had the painting "Amazon", created in 1947, based on his ideas about this ancient Greek myth. In addition, in his textbook for beginning artists, published in 1961, there is a section "Drawing an antique figure" (Deineka A. Learn to draw. Conversations with students of drawing. M., 1961. C. 65-75).
14. At the art exhibition // Truth. 1943. 31.03; V. Yakovlev. The Red Army in the fight against the German fascist invaders // Labor. 1943. 26.02; Beskin O. Notes from the exhibition // Evening Moscow. 1943. 08.04.
15. Red Army in the fight against the Nazi invaders // Red Star. 1943. 17.03.
16. Nenarokomova I. Decree. cit. C. 161.
17. RGALI. F. 2073. Op. 1. D. 9. L. 3, 33.
18. Ibid. L. 34, 45-46, 199.
19. Sysoev V.P. Decree. cit. C. 217.
20. Deineka. Painting. C. 143.
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  1. Denis Obukhov
    Denis Obukhov 1 December 2015 15: 44
    Alexander Deineka Self portrait 1948
  2. Vend
    Vend 1 December 2015 15: 45
    The thing is that the artist and historicity are often not compatible things. And this applies to all artists. Even such masters as Vasnetsov, in the film "Heroes", mixed weapons with armor of different times. More than once, many have turned to this topic, on different sites. When an artist creates, he follows the path of creative inspiration. In this case, the position of Stanislav Rostotsky, the director of the best film about the Vikings "And Trees Grow on the Stones" is indicative. When it was necessary to shoot battle scenes, he sat on a chair and fell asleep, and his son Andrei Rostotsky filmed the battle scenes. In my opinion, they are great.
    Article +
  3. Denis Obukhov
    Denis Obukhov 1 December 2015 15: 45
    Downed ace 1943
    1. Akulina
      Akulina 1 December 2015 16: 57
      This picture (Downed Ace) was a nightmare of my childhood - I imagined with horror what would happen in a second ... Now streams of blood are pouring from the screens and even children cannot be frightened by cynical self-harm .. And I still look at this work with horror. And "Defense of Sevastopol" is an absolute masterpiece. At school, in the 80s, they wrote an essay on it, I remember how the whole class was excited - especially the boys. We looked at the reproduction, and invented a fate for each character. All our sailors were sure to stay alive. This is how patriotism was brought up in the "damned" Soviet past. And now my favorite characters are the simpsons and spongebob ...
  4. Denis Obukhov
    Denis Obukhov 1 December 2015 15: 47
    Deineka’s picture is not a documentary reproduction of a combat episode, but a symbolic depiction of a clash of two irreconcilable forces on the ruins of a burning city: the heroic figures of Soviet sailors in deliberately snow-white robes against an impending dark gray, almost faceless mass of invaders. The dynamics and drama of the composition are determined by the central figure of the sailor in the last desperate throw on a geometrically accurate series of enemy bayonets.

    In wartime, the artist could not find a man's nature for the central figure, and in the end he invited a girl athlete of a suitable physique to pose.
    1. EFA
      EFA 1 December 2015 16: 43
      You at least indicate the source if you copy the entire word for word, otherwise it’s not beautiful ...
      It seems like I'm crazy. Someone else's mind.

      However, Vicki also "borrowed" the text from one document. Namely, the text of the dissertation for the degree of candidate of pedagogical sciences ...
  5. Altona
    Altona 1 December 2015 15: 49
    At least I draw a little myself, but I don't consider myself a specialist in painting. I love battle canvases, panoramas, installations with figures of soldiers and equipment. This canvas was first seen on reproduction in the magazine "Youth", there were tabs with paintings. For some reason I remember this painting and "Bathing the Red Horse" by Petrov-Vodkin ...
  6. bad
    bad 1 December 2015 15: 54
    when I and many of my peers went to school at the time of the USSR, we had a lot of images of these great paintings in history textbooks ... I personally perceived many masterpieces of Russian, Soviet, and world art from textbooks ... serious and responsible people used to make textbooks .. nostalgia damn .. recourse
  7. crambol
    crambol 1 December 2015 15: 56

    This is a symbol picture. A symbol of our strength. The symbol of our victory.

    1. Sergey S.
      Sergey S. 1 December 2015 16: 22
      Quote: crambol
      This is a symbol picture. A symbol of our strength. The symbol of our victory.

      I would specify:
      This picture is a SYMBOL OF OUR FAITH IN VICTORY,
  8. iliitchitch
    iliitchitch 1 December 2015 15: 57
    Nice picture, without scam. The warrior in the foreground is right, in the background is another warrior seen? Watch carefully.
  9. Reptiloid
    Reptiloid 1 December 2015 16: 02
    Thanks to the author ----- for this article. I have long been thinking about paintings on the military theme in the history of Russia, the USSR. While a lot of literature is devoted to the plots of ancient history, somehow I did not meet books on this topic. Recently, pictures of socialist realism have become interesting. Military subjects occupy a special place.
  10. stonks
    stonks 1 December 2015 16: 05
    As a child, I often and for a long time considered a reproduction of this painting by Deineka in one of my mom's reproductions albums.
    I had the impression that I myself was in the center of this fight ...
  11. stonks
    stonks 1 December 2015 16: 15
    Quote: Denis Obukhov
    figures of Soviet sailors in deliberately snow-white robes

    I didn't like the word "deliberately".
    Deineka in the picture (IMHO) made one of the stresses on the custom of Russian sailors to dress in all clean clothes before a mortal battle - to wear the first term uniform.
    I think that this is precisely what he emphasized that the sailors knew that they were going to their LAST BATTLE.
    1. S-cream
      S-cream 2 December 2015 11: 37
      Here, rather, the contrast of "light" and "darkness", in modern terminology. Those. the white parade of sailors was chosen precisely in opposition to the dark uniform of the German fascist invaders.
      Pay attention to the corner of the building on the right side of the picture where hand-to-hand ours and fascists converge. The same contrast, only a mirror. To shade dark and light.
      But your thought, rather, is expressed in a fighter with a naked torso on the left side of the picture.
  12. yuriy55
    yuriy55 1 December 2015 16: 24
    My teacher, Volodina Galina Petrovna, said that in an artwork of any genre one should not look for exact (literal, portrait) similarities. The main task of the viewer (reader) is to understand those thoughts and to be imbued with those feelings that the author put into his work. If stonks "... I had the impression that I myself was in the center of this battle ..."- the author has reached the goal ...
    It is not for nothing that true connoisseurs of artistic creativity periodically return to the viewed (read) paintings (books) and draw new ideas from the author and more fully capture his feelings and intonations ...
  13. aleksfill
    aleksfill 1 December 2015 16: 35
    The whole article is clumsy, as is the author's phrase: "... sailors IM Krasnoselsky, DS Odintsov, YK Parshin, VG Tsibulko received the stars of Heroes of the Soviet Union posthumously."
    They can be awarded posthumously, but they can get posthumously, except that the mistakes are clumsy. Author Evgeny Volkov.
    And the picture excites and disturbs and .... a good picture.
  14. 1 December 2015 16: 47
    As one character from the film, named Gotsman, said, "Oil painting!" good wink
  15. npzh
    npzh 1 December 2015 17: 06
    This picture must be watched after reading

    With the end of the air raids, the shelling of the Chersonesos "patch" increased markedly. This led Novikov to the idea that Manstein was going to make another attack before sunset today. In the current situation, she could be the last one that still survived from the COP. And Novikov, bleeding from his nose, needed time. Just a little respite. Some two or three hours. To hold out until nightfall To bring at least some semblance of order. To create a new, last line of defense. And Novikov decided to forestall Manstein. Without shells, almost without grenades and cartridges - counterattack!

    Junior Sergeant G. Vdovichenko of the 229th engineer battalion of the 109th rifle division, who miraculously survived the Sevastopol cataclysm, recalled the following about the future: “At the end of the day, the 35th battery began to mobilize all healthy soldiers and commanders for a counterattack. those who did not have a weapon were given a rifle, cartridges and one grenade for two. Every thirtieth, regardless of military rank, was appointed the senior group - platoon commander. We lay down near the battery in the area of ​​the left command and rangefinder post. Three people climbed the turret of this KDP : a sailor in the uniform of a captain of the 3rd rank and two army commanders. The naval commander turned to the soldiers and commanders around, and said that, by order of the Headquarters, it was allowed to leave Sevastopol. All serviceable equipment must be destroyed. That the ships would come at night and that the enemy did not interfere with the evacuation, you need to drive him away from the battery area as far as possible ... "

    It was about six o'clock in the evening when a white rocket hissed over the 35th battery. To her in response, the car engine rumbled quietly, somehow even at home. Amid the clouds of smoke raised by the incessant shelling, a truck appeared ... From the back of which, long bursts of a quadruple anti-aircraft machine gun immediately gushed at the dumbfounded enemy. A crowd of attackers rushed after the truck. This gray, burnt-out, almost completely whitened with bandages, something roaring mass made such a terrible impression that the German companies, pretty exhausted during the day ... just fled. They ran as best they could. They ran so fast that the German spotters simply did not have time to transmit data on the transfer of fire to their batteries. So it was not possible to stop the attack with a barrage of shells. The attack stopped itself, when, having waved a kilometer and a half behind the fleeing Fritzes and splitting with bayonets of those whom they caught up with, the exhausted Sevastopol residents collapsed in exhaustion on the ground cracked from the explosions and heat. Someone was still in oblivion hissing "uraaaaa", someone was moaning, but most of them lay in silence ...

    Novikov was told that the counterattack was a success. The enemy has been thrown back, but there is no strength to develop success. Captured two dozen machine guns, heels of guns and three tanks (one "deuce" and a pair of Czech "thirty-eighths" from the 204rd battalion of the 22th tank regiment of the XNUMXnd German tank division). The enemy is gradually regaining consciousness and is already concentrating the fire of his batteries on the lines occupied by us during the counterattack ...

    Novikov ordered everything that happened to recapture the Oktyabrsky cipher, from the captured guns and tanks to fire until the ammunition was completely consumed, and then destroy the trophies. The troops will return to their original positions.

    The expected new attack by Manstein Chersonesos did not follow that evening ...
  16. S-cream
    S-cream 1 December 2015 17: 49
    With all due respect, and even admiration for this picture, the author is minus for the copied text in which he did not even bother to edit the links. Stumbling on improperly designed numbers in the text is unpleasant.
  17. moskowit
    moskowit 1 December 2015 18: 02
    "... The canvas" Defense of Sevastopol ", created during the Great Patriotic War by Alexander Alexandrovich Deineka (1899 - 1969), actually made him famous ..."

    Alexander Deineka became famous a little earlier, when mosaic panels for the Mayakovskaya metro station were made based on his sketches ...
    The painting "Defense of Sevastopol" is a powerful, dynamic canvas that personifies the opposition of light and dark forces. I think this is deeply symbolic. This work was widely replicated and had a "poster" scope. If my memory serves me, then a reproduction of the picture was included in the 10th volume of the famous "Children's Encyclopedia". They were issued in huge numbers of stamps ... One in 1962, the other in 1964.
  18. moskowit
    moskowit 1 December 2015 18: 14
    And the books looked and look like this;
  19. Basil50
    Basil50 2 December 2015 09: 24
    To write such a picture you need to be a CITIZEN of your country. Do we have many cultural figures who consider themselves citizens of RUSSIA? See how many different kinds of figures are stealing someone else’s work or ugly masterpieces under * your vision *. The impression is that their ideological guru is pornographic * madona *, who * rules * the pictures that fell into her * arm *. It is bitter that there are few CREATORS among * figures *, all are some kind of interpreters or outright hack-workers.
  20. FEDY
    FEDY 7 October 2016 17: 05
    the picture is powerful-beautiful, even in childhood.
    was tearing down and the commissary of the throat was approaching ....