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Mystical story of the painting of Ivan Kramskoy “Mermaids»

In the history of classical Russian painting, there are many mysterious and surprising episodes that allow us to talk about the existence of paintings with “bad reputation”. This list includes several works by the famous artist-Peredvizhnik Ivan Kramskoy. The largest number of legends is associated with his painting “Mermaids”.

The idea of” Mermaids “appeared in the artist under the impression of N. Gogol’s Novella “may night, or the drowned Woman”. According to popular beliefs, girls who were drowned after death became mermaids. It was them and decided to write Ivan Kramskoy. This theme was very unexpected and new for the realist artist. The artist was very fond of Gogol and read all his works many times. He wanted to convey the very atmosphere of “May night”, to immerse the viewer in the mysterious world of Ukrainian folklore.

While working on the picture, the artist was haunted by several themes. First, he was obsessed with the idea of transmitting the fascinating beauty of moonlight, which he could not do: “I’m trying to catch the moon at the moment. They say, however, that a part of the moonlight night got into my picture, but not all of it. The moon is a difficult thing…”, the artist complained. The problem was complicated by the fact that the moon itself was not in the picture – only its glare on the ghostly figures of mermaids.

Second, the very subject of ghosts and the otherworld was said to be dangerous. Many contemporaries of Kramskoy seriously believed that Gogol’s subjects can drive painters mad. “I am glad that with such a story I did not finally break my neck, and if I did not catch the moon, then something fantastic came out,” Kramskoi said.

Critics agreed that the idea was successfully implemented, and called the picture “the extreme verisimilitude of a fantastic dream”: “we are so tired of all these gray peasants, clumsy village women, drunk officials,… that the appearance of a work like “May night” should make a most pleasant and refreshing impression on the public.” However, the favorable responses ended there. And then the mysticism began.

At the first exhibition of the Association of Peredvizhniki “Rusalok” I. Kramskoy hung next to the picture of A. Savrasov “Rooks have arrived”. At night, the landscape suddenly fell from the wall – then joked that the mermaids did not like this neighborhood. However, soon there was no time for jokes.

P. Tretyakov purchased both paintings for his gallery after the exhibition. For” Rooks “a place was immediately found – in the office, and “Mermaids” could not find a suitable place for a long time, they were hung from room to room. The fact is that from the hall where the picture of kramsky was hung, at night there was a faint singing and a breath of coolness, like water. The cleaners refused to enter the room.

Not inclined to mysticism, Tretyakov did not believe the rumors, but once he noticed that he felt tired when he was near this painting for a long time. Visitors to the gallery also complained that it was simply impossible to view this picture for a long time. And soon there were rumors that the young ladies who watched the “Mermaids” for a long time went mad, and one of them drowned herself in the Yauza. Of course, there was no hard evidence of a connection between the incident and the art gallery.

An old nanny, who lived in the Tretyakov family, advised to hang the picture in a far corner, so that the light did not fall on it during the day: “it is Difficult for mermaids in the sunlight, because they can not calm down even at night. And as soon as they get into the shadow, they will stop roving at once!”. Tretyakov, far from superstition, still listened to the advice. Since then, visitors to the gallery have not complained about this picture.

No fewer questions were related to another painting by this artist: who was the” Unknown ” artist Ivan Kramskoy. Such stories can be treated in different ways: someone is skeptical, and someone, even if they do not believe, still listens. Paintings that bring misery to their owners: mysticism or coincidence?

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