“Dance among swords” is a picture of the Russian artist Semiradsky, surprising because there is nothing in it of the chanting of the native land that is familiar to Russian artists. It was usually considered good form to praise the people, or thin white birch trees, or at least historical moments.
Paintings similar to those of Semiradsky were considered contemporaries by the Wanderers “thistle to be weeded out.”
The painting depicts ancient Rome and amusements of the nobility. In the gazebo, in the shade, sit men. They are dressed in snow-white togas, floral wreaths on their heads, some dishes on the table, and the arbor itself is braided with flowers and greenery. Men look attentive and satisfied with their fate. Apparently, they are patricians who can afford and rest in the shade, and dancers, and musicians. The rest of which can be idle and relaxed.
In front of them, among the swords stuck in the ground with the tips upwards, a naked girl is dancing. On her wrists she has bracelets, earrings in her ears. She arches, her back is tense, and she looks strained like a fluttering string. She is accompanied by three girls. One plays the flute, the second on the drum, the third on the lyre.
But the most interesting thing in the picture is not the people, but the landscape surrounding them. Behind the fence of the garden you can see gentle mountains and blue shine of the sea. From the sky the golden tender sun shines, which plays on the faces with highlights, dresses the dancing girl in the best of clothes. It is light, and even just looking at the picture, one can imagine how warm his touch is and how mobile his rays are. In the warmth and bliss of a summer morning, the dancing girl seems to be a nymph, and the musicians – her sisters, kidnapped from the forest and brought to a luxurious house, entertain the rich.
“Even if there were no people in the picture, it would be a masterpiece,” wrote one of the critics. And this is true. The landscape, written with love and attention, would be beautiful in and of itself.