The whole life of the artist was accompanied, in fact, by one woman – Nina Zabela, his wife. This statement can be safely applied to the work of Vrubel. No matter what women’s heroines the artist, the Sea Princess, Spring or Margarita, imprinted on his canvases, one could notice the features of Nina in them.
The smile, which slightly illuminated the mouth, large eyes, a slightly elongated oval of the face, a slim figure and long skinny hands – all this becomes an integral feature of the female heroines of Vrubel. At the same time, the artist has repeatedly created portraits of his wife.
The painting “Muse” (1896), now kept in the Tretyakov Gallery, refers to one of them. However, we should not forget that we face a special variation of the portrait genre – portrait-fantasy, portrait-fiction, in which there is no place for trivial realism and crude naturalism.
This is especially evident in the unusually deep eyes of a woman, who seem ready to sparkle with emerald infernal fire at any moment. The same applies to Nina’s flowing hair, which at a certain point loses its materiality, becomes something like a disembodied wind, a flame.
In the very appearance of the heroine, in the colors surrounding it, something fabulous slips: the artistic experience of Vrubel affects. And they immediately recall “The Golden Cockerel” or “The Tale of the Dead Princess” by Pushkin. At the same time, there is a certain touch of decorativeness in the picture, a feature typical of most Symbolist artists, and especially Vrubel.
Note that this characteristic applies to another “Muse” of the artist – a picture written a few years earlier. And on this canvas, the image of Nina, sitting on a bench, is not without some conditional decorativeness, theatricality, for which we love and appreciate Vrubel’s work.