Mikhail Aleksandrovich Vrubel, Lilac

While most landscape painters in the second half of the nineteenth century attempted to depict nature realistically, Vrubel preferred a rather scenic and decorative treatment of the subject. Vrubel, one of the masters of Russian art nouveau, did a great deal of work for the theatre, in addition to monumental and decorative art. He often used the richness of nature as no more than a pretext. His imagination led him to transform a simple flower or shrub into a fantastic fairyland of colours and lines. The painter’s preferred range of colours included every hue of blue, from sky blue to violet; combined with pink or green, these colours create the impression of a shimmering and changing surface. The sombre silhouette of a woman emanates from the background of a luminous lilac in flower, constructed of brush strokes varying in density. The features of the woman’s face are reminiscent of the artist’s wife and preferred model, the opera singer N.I. Zabela, and also evocative of the ceramic sculptures Vrubel made on themes from N.A. Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera The Snow Maiden.
Canadian Heritage Information Network
State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

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