Description of the painting by Mikhail Nesterov “In Russia” (Soul of the People)

Description of the painting by Mikhail Nesterov In Russia (Soul of the People)

In Nesterov’s intention to create the painting “In Russia” arose 10 years before it was written and was originally called “Christians”. The author in artistic form reflects on the fate of the Russian people and their country. Not without reason in the plot we see peripetias, developing from antiquity to modernity. Here we can see the split of Russia, and the Tsar with the Patriarch (intelligentsia and the people). There are here V. Solovyov, and Tolstoy, and F. Dostoevsky, and a blind soldier, and a sister of mercy. But all of them against the background of the Russian landscape to God himself, to the Highest ideal of the people, proceed with the procession of the Cross.

Everybody has his own way to God, but in the end, everyone moves in the same direction: some do it fussily, in a hurry, others – slowly and confidently. Someone in front, and someone behind, one with joy, without doubting, the other seriously deliberating. And ahead of such a diverse procession stands a twelve-year-old peasant boy. According to the artist, he is the most perfect embodiment of the soul of the people. Initially, the master wanted to write Jesus, leading the crowd into the kingdom of God. But given the modern criticism, he refused in the latest version from the image of Christ, but his presence on the canvas is still there, albeit in the image of the old, faded from the time of the Savior.

Therefore, it was the boy who became the central ideological image on the canvas, subconsciously directing each of us to the biblical truth: “As children will, you will enter the Kingdom of God.” This picture Nesterov, along with Dostoevsky and folk philosophy, tried to embody the idea of ​​justifying the people’s suffering in the name of redemption as a national peculiarity of Russia. In the picture there is a thought of the author, that the very introduction of Christianity in Russia was a very difficult and even painful stage. There is also some doubt: didn’t the Russian free soul put a “straitjacket” on purpose with the help of religion…

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