Valentin Serov, painting "Peter 1": date and history of creation, description
The artist Valentin Serov is called one of the greatest representatives of the Russian art school. To trace the development of his talent, you need to turn to his biography from early childhood, because, as the famous phrase says, “we all come from childhood”.
Therefore, the development of the talent of the author of the picture “Peter 1” from the early years of his life should be studied. So, the hero of this article was born in a family of two musicians. His father, Alexander Serov, was the son of a fairly wealthy man, a major official who prophesied his son a career as a major financier, but his intentions were not fulfilled due to the fact that the boy grew up artistic and subtle. Since childhood, he has shown great interest in drawing, music and other forms of art.
For years, he had to combine work as a clerk with music writing as a hobby.A strong influence on the formation of his creative worldview had a friend, Vladimir, or Valdemar, (as his close friends called him) Stasov. Alexander Serov did not always converge with aesthetic tastes with him, but this circumstance even more likely fueled their mutual interest in each other, rather than enmity.
Much later, their friendship broke down, but this was not due to the difference in their views on art, but because Stasov began caring for a distant relative of the composer, which he did not like very much. But this happened much later, and during the time of their youth, Vladimir Stasov strongly supported all the creative endeavors of his older comrade.
Vladimir Stasov was a really great person in terms of his influence on other people and the ability to bring up creative people in them. And on the advice of his friend, who was 4 years younger than him, Serov began to engage in musical criticism. It was the first Russian journalist in this field.
And before him, of course, this branch of journalism also existed, but everything that was written like that before its appearance was rather superficial.The articles of all the so-called music critics, who were before Serov, were more like musical reviews of certain works.
Alexander also tried to penetrate deeply into the essence of the creative outlook of each of the Russian composers. His articles sometimes did not differ in restraint and correctness, but it was he who laid the foundation for what later became known as musical criticism, representatives of which were such great artists as Cui and Vladimir Stasov himself.
Acquaintance of the artist's parents
Actually, Serov became professionally engaged in writing music only after the release of his first opera “Judith”, which gained immense popularity among the Russian and world public, and the composer’s talent was highly appreciated by celebrities such as Richard Wagner, Ferenc Liszt and many other European composers. Serov also met his future wife and met her through music. His house was next door to the conservatory. The composer’s windows were opposite the school’s recreation windows. Many advanced music students have been frequent guests at the composer’s house.
By that time, he was already a mature enough person and a creative person, distinguished by his peculiar views on creativity and musical education and attracted the attention of creative young people, who did not always agree with the principle of teaching that was preached by conservatory teachers.
Those years fell on the first wave of the struggle of Russian women for their rights. One of the results of this struggle was the right of women to get higher education. Among the fields most often elected by them was music.
Among the first students of the conservatory was the future wife of Alexander Serova Ekaterina Semenovna. She, being his passionate fan and knowing that some of her acquaintances were on a friendly footing with a famous composer, began to beg them to introduce her to him. In the end, this acquaintance happened. The girl was invited to visit the creator of popular operas at the time. They immediately found a common language, which has become music.
Birth of a genius
Despite the significant difference in age, Alexander and Catherine could communicate for hours, playing four hands, favorite musical works, among which Johann Sebastian Bach's music always ranked first.Soon the composer made a proposal to his young friend. From this marriage was born the future artist Serov. The painting "Peter 1" and other canvases glorified their son to the whole world.
Although, according to the recollections of Valentin Alexandrovich, his father paid little attention to raising the boy, nevertheless he always aroused interest in him, since the creative direction of his personality was passed on to the child and to the child. It was his father who was the first teacher of drawing for the future great painter Serov, who later created the painting "Peter 1".
In addition, all the childhood years of the boy until the very death of his parent were surrounded by leading figures of both Russian and world art. Once the whole family, consisting of three people, went on a trip to Europe, where they stayed for a few days with old acquaintance Alexander Serov, the German composer Richard Wagner. And although little Valentin could not fully appreciate the significance of this composer due to his young age, nevertheless this episode from childhood remained in his memory forever.
It was Wagner who got the grant from the Russian government for the Serovs, thanks to which the future artist was able to get an education.From his father he was transferred to his stunning artistic taste, thanks to which he easily distinguished genuine classical works from those created for the needs of the public, overflowing with cheap artistic effects of paintings. This unique flair helped him to create such masterpieces as Peter 1 and Girl with Peaches.
Characteristic of creativity
The work of Valentin Serov was open to all new trends in European artistic culture, but at the same time he always felt his close connection with the Russian classical art school, the heir of which he considered himself. Under it, he meant the realistic direction of artistic art that existed in Russia in the middle of the 19th century. Serov considered himself the successor of his teacher, Ilya Repin, who enthusiastically spoke of many of the student’s works, including the Peter the Great painting described in this article. The main criterion by which Valentin Aleksandrovich evaluated his work was artistic truth.
That is, all his works, even the most fantastic, had a vital basis: they were painted with real people or authentic portraits, and nature was painted in the open air. So the picture “Peter 1” was created.From Western artists of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, he took mainly the technique: original touches, tone, and so on. Many contemporaries, as well as experts in the field of art say that the work of Valentin Serov is particularly truthful.
One of the critics even said that the works of the painter are similar to the pages of the great novel by Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy “War and Peace”. However, few experts in the field of painting are able to unambiguously determine the direction of the work of Valentin Serov. Some of them attribute the artist to the masters of portraiture of the classical Russian school, others tend to speak of him as an artist-innovator who perceived all the main trends in contemporary art.
Serov in the memoirs of contemporaries
One thing can be said boldly: Serov, relying on the roots of Russian classical painting, constantly moved forward, opening up more and more new horizons of artistic creativity in art. It is hardly possible to find another more diverse creator, distinguished by such breadth of views, constantly changing, improving, finding more and more new possibilities of expressing his ideas.
Serov’s contemporaries talked about his portrait painting in the following way: a great artist almost always tried not only to convey an external resemblance to a model, but to express his appreciation for a given person. One of the painter's friends noted that the master seemed to put marks on the people whom he depicted on his canvases: some put twos, some three, sometimes even coke. But in order to earn four with a minus, you had to be an outstanding person. This deep knowledge and possession of both classical and modern techniques in visual art made Valentina Serova one of the most universal and first-class artists of his time, and his desire to see the characters in his paintings is not just a model for portraying human external features, but also to convey their inner world puts this artist on a par with the most brilliant representatives of world art.
One of the contemporaries of Valentin Alexandrovich Serov said that the master seemed to be tearing off the masks from his characters, depicting their true face, devoid of artificial grimaces and bombast. That is, the face that was planed during the whole life of this person imprinted on itself the imprints of all his actions, both good and bad.Valentin Serov himself talked about his work in the following way: the main advantage of these paintings is that there is a special freshness in them, which is always found in real life, in nature, but it is almost never possible to find such a quality in works of art. This is precisely the picture of "Peter 1".
How to create a masterpiece
The story of the creation of the painting "Peter 1" began at the beginning of the 20th century, when one of the publishers set out to publish a series of historical paintings that were to become a textbook for schoolchildren studying the course of national history. They planned to depict the most vivid historical figures and capture the most important milestones of the existence of the Russian state.
Moreover, the book publisher, who possessed a great erudition in the field of artistic creativity and was familiar with the works of all the outstanding masters of Russia contemporary to him, selected for each particular painting precisely the painter who, in his opinion, was able to depict this plot most authentically and vividly. At present, only one collection in Russia has a complete collection of these reproductions, which numbered more than 30.Valentin Alexandrovich Serov was offered the plot of the founding of the Northern capital of our state by Emperor Peter 1.
Description of the picture
This historical persona has long stirred the imagination of the artist.
He had his own original view of this personality. Serov did not like the description of Peter in the paintings of other artists, because the founder of St. Petersburg usually went out as a written, handsome, fit, slender, devoid of any flaws. Meanwhile, according to the descriptions of foreign and Russian contemporaries of Peter, who had a chance to personally meet with the Russian emperor, he did not at all have an ideal appearance.
His head was disproportionately small compared with the body, and his legs, by contrast, were too long and thin. It was such a king that Valentin Aleksandrovich Serov portrayed on his canvas. However, looking at the picture “Peter 1”, the creation date of which is 1907, the viewer is unlikely to be able to leave the museum indifferent. He will be fascinated by the energy of a great statesman and reformer.
The atmosphere of the painting Serov "Peter 1"
The emperor is depicted accompanied by a retinue of courtiers who contrast with him, being his complete opposite.Peter’s burning gaze, his inflexibility in front of the harsh northern element, which manifests itself in a strong sea wind, which can be inferred from the strong ripples that cover the Neva River, cannot but cause admiration. A flock of hunched minions of the king, on the contrary, is a pitiful sight. They go hunched, barely moving under the gusts of a strong wind. One of the courtiers, who obviously has an exotic appearance, bears the king's hat. Some experts see this character as Arap Hannibal, the closest ally of Tsar Peter. During his reign, wearing a headdress, called a cocked hat, became fashionable. The position of the king obliged to wear fashionable attire and accessories.
However, the cocked hat, which was usually held in hands, occasionally on the head of the owner, was entrusted in the picture to one of the courtiers. From this detail, one can judge how dismissively the king really treated such trifles as clothing and appearance. He was more fascinated by the construction of a new capital, the creation of the fleet and government reforms. This also confirms that in the picture of Serov “Peter 1” the Admiralty, like other buildings,which later became the hallmark of St. Petersburg, is absent, but the ships that became the pride of the Russian fleet afterwards have already been built and are standing off the coast. Thus, we can conclude that the autocrat put the construction of the fleet in priority over all other occupations. Such is Peter 1 Serov.
The following can be said about the characteristics of the secondary characters in this picture. The faces of these characters are written in general terms, they are blurred, as it were. Here the author of the picture “Peter 1” does not go into details. The artist focuses the attention of the audience on the figure of the autocrat. This method has become characteristic of the works of the master in his late period of creativity. The painter began to concentrate only on the main idea of his work, emphasizing it in every possible way.
He began to highlight the main object of his canvases, while all other details of the paintings usually had a background character. The palette of colors used by the artist serves the same purpose. The tone of the work is faded, the color of the picture is rather scanty. Valentin Aleksandrovich Serov did not intend to distract the audience with the brightness of colors and extremely meticulously prescribed fine details.
Terrible and beautiful
The artist was so fascinated by the personality of Peter that he studied all available sources. Numerous historical documents were read in Russian and foreign languages. Many of them Valentin Aleksandrovich owned perfectly. As a result, after writing the picture “Peter 1,” he created several more canvases, the main character of which was the emperor.
In these paintings the Russian autocrat invariably turned out to be both terrible and beautiful at the same time, as in the poem by Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin “Poltava”. The master was distinguished by his desire to depict even royal persons without embellishment, including Nicholas II.
It is in the ability to show all the many facets of the characters of their characters that the talent of the artist Valentin Serov lies. Currently, few people know that the first picture in this series was originally intended for a collection of school illustrations. She has long become an independent value, taking its rightful place among the masterpieces of world painting.