1874; canvas, oil; 81.3×65; Altai Regional Museum of Fine Arts.
One of the most powerful paintings by Alexei Kondratievich Savrasov – “Tomb on the Volga”. It belongs to the heyday of the painter’s work, and rightfully takes place among the most recognizable paintings of the Russian school of the late nineteenth century.
Critics praised this work, calling it a “landscape-poem”, which encloses the abyss of feelings and experiences, a wide emotional spectrum, transmitted through the selected plot, composition, colors. The combination of incredible mastery of performance and precision of the idea will make an indelible impression on the viewer. Isaac Ilyich Levitan was very fond of this painting, who found that in the simplicity of “The Grave on the Volga” lies “a whole world of high poetry.”
The landscape is made in dark colors, but does not leave an oppressive impression, despite the sad look of a lonely grave on the river bank. The foreground of the picture, especially conspicuous to the viewer, is as if immersed in a shadow. A small curved birch, dry grass, a wooden frame of the grave, standing apart from all worldly, living. The very personification of sadness and loneliness, but the background contrasts sharply with this melancholy, creating an extraordinary impression. The light exalted distance of the sky, the breadth of the river, gilded in the rays of the setting sun – with these strokes the artist seems to make it clear that earthly life is not finite. The sadness passes, and to replace the brief human existence comes something more sublime and significant.
Far away from the dark coast, where everything is dead and abandoned, a lone bird flies away, striving towards the high clear skies. Thus, the soul of man, detached from earthly bonds, strives for eternal grace and peace. The picture of the dark last shelter causes the viewer a sense of purification, emotional fullness.