Isaac Ilich Levitan, Above Eternal Peace

Levitan, the great master of lyric landscape, attempted to find answers to his deep philosophical meditations on the meaning of human existence and the destiny and place of man in the world. Above Eternal Peace is based on an accurate depiction of Lake Oudomlia, near Vychniï Volotchek in the Tver region. The work, however, is not perceived as a representation of a specific place. The image is too general, and we can safely say that this nature painting is symbolic and cannot be reduced to a single interpretation. Water and sky surround a small island exposed to wind from every direction, with an abandoned cemetery and a chapel, in the window of which a tentative flame struggles to remain alight. Levitan has been able to go beyond a realistic depiction. The painter’s monumental painterly image leads us to think about life and death, the insignificance of human existence and the frail destiny of man in the face of eternal, majestic nature. Levitan wrote to Tretiakov about the painting, saying, “This painting represents me completely, all my psychology, all my being.”
Canadian Heritage Information Network
State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

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