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TITLE: 'On Ivanov's Significance in Russian Art' (1)
AUTHOR: V. V. Stasov
THIS VERSION: Copyright © 2003 Robert Russell; all rights reserved. Redistribution, or republication of this text in any medium requires the consent of the translator(s).

Introduction to the text

In my view Ivanov (2) is one of the greatest artistic figures ever to have appeared anywhere in the world, and at the same time he is one of the most important and unusual Russian personalities. Leaving aside for a moment the fact that Ivanov was a painter, he still emerges as an utterly exceptional person. The power of his thought, the strength of his character, his good nature, his concern not only for those close to him but also for those who were distant but to whom he could be useful, his ascetic life, his exceptional seriousness, the poetic and profound nature of each of his insights, his contempt for external gains of pride and profit, the absence of egoism, his constant, incorruptible sense of justice for all, including those of an entirely different tendency, and - at the same time - his implacable hatred of everything base and shallow, his heroic and uncompromising enmity towards the talentless, the prosaic or the purely physical, his striking truthfulness, sincerity and naivety, finally his boundless love for his native land and his preparedness to dedicate himself fully to its future elevation and enlightenment: what a combination in the one person of the rarest, most unusual and most valuable qualities!

But when you add that feature that stretches like a magic thread through the whole of Ivanov's life - the thirst for self-improvement and the constant development that flowed from it and that never ceased, even at that age when most people say, 'that's enough' and settle for a lazy and undeserved peace - then there arises before you a personality who is one of the greatest and most consoling phenomena not only of our age, but of any age.

If we then turn to Ivanov the artist, we discover that he consists of two major parts: Ivanov pre- and post-1848.

Until his transformation, Ivanov was filled with many false ideas and preconceptions. However inherently lucid his mind might have been, the fact that he was born into an ancient, patriarchal family; educated within the walls of an institution that was capable of developing in students nothing but mechanical technique and that had not the slightest idea about the intellectual and inner person; finally, the long stay in Italy among a small circle of people, some of whom were talented, others intelligent and educated, who were even in their own way people of ideas, but who - taken as a whole - were in no way part of contemporary Europe and had, frankly, to be recognized as out-and-out conservatives: (3) all of this could not do other than hold Ivanov back, and even have a pernicious effect on him. His choice of monotonous subjects and his devotion only to the same circle of people in religious and certain other respects were the inevitable results of such unpropitious circumstances. Moreover, the almost idolatrous reverence that had been instilled in him from an early age towards the two 'incomparable' epochs in the history of art, Ancient Greece and Italy in the sixteenth century, also left its mark on him, a mark that was ineradicable and was there for life. Just a few months before his death Ivanov wrote in one of his letters (an entirely sincere letter, as always) that in his major picture he 'wanted to show the extent to which I as a Russian understand the Italian School, how my primary aim has been to get as close as possible to the finest examples of that School, to subject my Russian power of imitation to them and to create something that is my own'. What an unimportant and insufficient aim for such a mind and talent as Ivanov's! Was it worth spending so many of the best years of his life on such a 'primary' task, even if it was just from the technical side?

However, that was what happened. There is nothing that can be done about it. One can only regret it. And yet, both of Ivanov's paintings, his two unique works, are full of huge virtues.

The Appearance of Christ to Mary Magdalene (4) is a painting that is still half academic, full of clichéd, almost routine motifs. The figure of Christ in this painting is very ordinary and unsuccessful in the face, the body and the robes. Mary Magdalene has the advantage of deep emotion in her tearful and yet joyful eyes. Everything else is moderate.

Ivanov's second (and final) painting, The Appearance of Christ To the People, (5) is a completely different matter. Here Ivanov has risen to great heights and has created a work unlike any other in Russian art, a work which in many respects achieves as much as was achieved by Italian art of the sixteenth century, that is, the greatest art of old Europe.

Ivanov worked on this subject from his youth onwards. At the age of twenty-two he wrote to his uncle, Demert, in 1824, 'I am now completing John the Baptist Preaching in the Wilderness'. Sixteen years later he took up the same painting, but this time it was of huge proportions, and he spent twelve years working on it (1836-1848). He thought there could be no greater or more significant subject than this. In 1835 he wrote to the Society for the Encouragement of Artists, saying that this subject, which had occupied him for a long time, 'has now become my only thought and my only hope'.

Ivanov never achieved the magnificent colour of the old Venetians, Titian and others, (6) that he hoped to achieve and that he spent so much effort on. If you are not a born master of colour, you can never become one, however hard you try. In this respect, incidentally, Ivanov shares the fate of new nations. Not only have the old Venetians had no equal for three hundred years, but there have been no major talents as colourists among us Russians or among the other nations of Europe. Ivanov cannot be criticized in relation to other artists in this respect. Moreover, Ivanov himself, in 1858, considered his painting 'far from finished', and he brought it to Russia because of his financial difficulties and the serious deterioration in his eyesight.

But apart from colour, everything else in the painting is superb, elevating Ivanov and his creation to the ranks of those artists and artistic works which are universally acknowledged to be the greatest and most excellent.

One cannot fail to see the various faults in Ivanov's painting - they are obvious. Thus, for example, the overall impression is spoilt by the cross in John the Baptist's hands, on which Ivanov took the advice of the classical Thorvaldsen, (7) or John's cloak, completed after taking the advice of the classical painter of pious religious scenes, Overbeck. (8) Then again, it is also odd to praise the general disposition of the figures, which has a sculptural, almost bas-relief look to it; the mass of people artificially driven together and grouped in a narrow (when viewed two-dimensionally) oblong space; also, the artificially (though wonderfully and elegantly) draped folds of the robes, for example, on Christ, the Apostles John and Andrew and the Jew with braided hair in the right-hand corner of the painting. But surely similar faults are also to be found in the greatest and most talented Italian painters of the sixteenth century, even in the Raphaels, Leonardos and so forth? Take The School of Athens in Rome, Disputa, Heliodorus, Attila, the Hampton Court cartoons, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, The Last Judgement, The Last Supper in Milan, (9) and hundreds of 'Holy Families' where the Mother of God sits with the infant Christ on a throne, perhaps under a canopy, while around Her to left and right various saintly personages are positioned regularly - surely all these paintings have figures positioned sculpturally (in an almost bas-relief fashion) in a narrow, compressed (when viewed two-dimensionally), oblong space? And yet, surely these genuinely talented works are nevertheless recognized as the most remarkable and unique creations of the human spirit and of human talent? Is it not also the case that the drapes in the very best of these paintings, which are considered artistic pearls, hang in a very deliberate and artificial way? It could not, by the way, be otherwise, since no one wears such garments, and the artist, never having seen them used in real life, is forced to invent imaginary folds.

These are all shortcomings that are determined by the very nature of the matter itself. Whoever says 'ideal' also says 'imaginary', or at least 'invented', 'conventional'. Ivanov shared the fate of all, and should be judged no more harshly than all his fellow painters of the same type.

But it is not because of the idealized and invented side of his art that Ivanov is dear to us. He is dear to us for his profound and truthful expression of the real, for the exceptionally talented way he expresses nature, people, character types, for his capture of the spiritual and of emotional shifts. In these areas he has very few rivals among any of his many predecessors.

Ivanov's letters (some of which have been cited above) and his innumerable life studies, all of which have been preserved, reveal the extent to which he studied living nature for his painting, and how, in order to convey the living beauty of the naked body, he diligently visited baths in Rome and Perugia and went to river banks and the seaside ('to see different sorts of people bathing', as he wrote to his father in 1839). They show how, intrigued by the idea of nationality, he visited synagogues and undertook lengthy journeys in order to see and to convey true Jewish types. 'In his work faces had a typicality that came from the Gospels, and at the same time they were Jewish. Looking at the faces, you suddenly understand which country this is', says Gogol, who witnessed Ivanov's work and preparations. 'But', he continues, 'how was he to represent that for which no artist had yet found a model? Where was he to find a model for how to represent on the faces of his figures the entire range of human reactions to Christ? Where was that to be found? From inside his own head? Was he to create it from his imagination? Was he to capture it with his intellect? No, nonsense! The intellect is too cold and the imagination too insignificant for such a task. Ivanov strained his imagination to the limit. Looking at the faces of everyone he met, he tried to capture their loftiest spiritual impulses. He lingered in churches in order to observe people at prayer.' (10)

As for landscape, which plays such an important part in the painting, Gogol has something to say about the way Ivanov studied that too: 'Ivanov would stay for months on end in the unhealthy Pontine Marshes (11) and the wilderness places of Italy, capturing in his sketches all the wild, remote spots around Rome. He studied every pebble, every little leaf, in a word, he did everything he could, he drew everything for which he found a model.' (12) Full confirmation of Gogol's words can be found in one of Ivanov's own letters addressed to his sister at the end of 1840: 'I went (in the summer) to Subiaco, a little town in the Sabine Hills. (13) It is surrounded by wild, bare rocks, there's a clear, fast-flowing river with poplars and willows on the banks. It all served me as material (for studies). I was pleased to see that it was like the ideas that I had got from books about Palestine and the River Jordan and the surrounding trees and hills.' Many times Ivanov tried to go to the East, to Palestine and, of course, if he had gone then he would have portrayed the real landscape of the Jordan in his painting. But he was unable to realize his cherished dream (which was in no way similar to Gogol's journey to the holy places), (14) and therefore he naturally had to rely on descriptions, on travellers' sketches, on Subiaco, which was as close as possible to his conception of the banks of the Jordan. Other places in Italy helped him by complementing the picture and bringing it as close as possible to the original, of which he had a profound sense.

In order to find a historically accurate portrayal of the true type of Christ, Ivanov was remarkably thorough in searching through all the ancient depictions, both in paintings and mosaics. When he at last found some Byzantine representations, especially a mosaic in Palermo Cathedral, he then spent a long time looking for a person with that type of face, and at last he found a real Italian model (by a strange trick of nature it was a woman) whose facial features looked from a distance like those of the Palermo mosaic. It was the same with the other major figures in the painting, the Apostles John the Evangelist, Andrew, and the others.

Thus, in every aspect of his creation Ivanov acted as a profound and true Realist. He did not want to make anything up, to fantasise in the normal way. First of all and above all he sought the firm, secure support of history, life, reality. 'Everything that's bad stays behind in the exploratory studies', writes Ivanov to Gogol in 1844, 'only the best is carried forward into the real painting.' Everything else - expression, the deep inner sense, the profound content - was suggested to him by his great, wide soul, and thus it is that even the innumerable studies, carried out over many years, would make a great and unusual gallery full of first-class, beautiful works. But the painting itself, being the aggregate in compressed form of the very best of the best, collected like valuable pearls over many years, is a combination of remarkable qualities such as has never been surpassed by any painter of Ivanov's type and tendency.

One can confidently state that in all European art there is no figure of Christ like Ivanov's, either in its majesty, simplicity, and spiritual profundity, or in the purely artistic perfection of the historically typical and exceptionally original representation.

Similarly, in all European art there is no John the Baptist equal to Ivanov's. The wild beauty of this prophet of the wilderness, the inspiration burning in his eyes and causing the disheveled mane of hair on his head to rise like a whirlwind, the mighty gesture of his pointing hand, the power in his step and his pose - all of this is distinctive, new and striking both in its beauty and its expression, to a greater degree than in any previous depiction of John, the dread prophet of penitence.

John the Evangelist, impetuous, full of a feminine beauty and youthful ardour, the elderly Andrew, full of gentle goodness, Pharisees casting angry, sidelong glances in their impotent rage, old people who have begun to believe, and young, mature men and handsome boys, stubborn adherents of the old faith whom nothing on earth, clearly, can shift from their fixed view, rich sybarites with their pampered bodies, and their branded slaves, in the distance some curious yet timid women wearing yashmaks, finally a whole crowd of indifferent, apathetic people, joy and awakening hope of happiness and a new life, indifference, curiosity, malicious souls - these are the rich and endlessly diverse elements that Ivanov has depicted in his painting. How much he has grown here in comparison with the previous Ivanov, the man who, in 1836, began work on this painting and who presented something that was, in general, quite elegant, especially in the colourful landscape and the distant views, but an Ivanov who was at that time still partially an academic Poussin, (15) with his conventional poses and gestures, his rather banal motifs of figures, positions, faces and costumes (see the final study for the painting described by Ivanov in an extract from his notebook for 1836).

One would have to be completely weighed down by prejudice not to accept joyfully and simply all the beauty, truth and significance filling Ivanov's painting. It would seem such an easy thing to understand that if you love the old Italian masters, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci, then if you are consistent you cannot fail to love Ivanov with all your soul and to value him with all your reason. In his painting he belongs to the same category as them. In some things he is their equal, in others he is inferior, while in yet others he is vastly superior. This latter fact is due to the three centuries that have passed by profitably since the age of those significant (for their time) artists, and to contemporary thought, knowledge and science. But not a bit of it! People who consider it a special honour and a necessity to demonstrate in Russia that they are not at all inferior to Europe and are in no way lagging behind it nevertheless believed it their duty to point out Ivanov's worth while prudently criticizing every excess as if they were defining the difference between the modern artist and the old Italians. To date there have been quite a few people in Russia who have spoken and written in this way. Here are just two representative examples: 'It would even be strange', wrote one anonymous author in 1860, 'if a new Raphael were suddenly to appear in our time! Let us take one of the most modern representatives of the Russian historical school, Ivanov. If this selfsame Ivanov had been born in Raphael's time, he would have painted not one or two but hundreds of pictures. But in our age he spent his whole life on one, and even then, as he himself (a conscientious man) admitted, there were several occasions when he threw up his hands in horror, having failed to find either in society or in his own soul that fire that is necessary for such works' (Khudozhestvennyi listok, 1860, No. 25, on the Exhibition). 'In Ivanov's talent', says another author, a very famous and talented one, (16) 'there is everything: a remarkable industriousness, an honest aspiration to the ideal, careful planning - in a word, everything except the one single thing that is needed, namely creative power, free inspiration. If Ivanov had had the talent of Briullov (17) or if Briullov had had the heart and soul of Ivanov, what wonders we might have witnessed! But it turned out that one of them could express whatever he wished, but had nothing to say, while the other had a lot to say but was tongue-tied. One painted pictures that crackled with effects but that lacked poetry or content; the other attempted to depict a profoundly conceived, new, vital idea, but the execution turned out to be uneven, approximate, and unlifelike. One, if I may put it like this, gave us a truthful presentation of a lie; the other gave us a false (that is, weak and untrue) presentation of the truth. Some people might ask, "why should we study Ivanov, an incomplete, unclear master, when there are indubitably great, triumphant models to follow? Why be satisfied with hints when there is the loud word?" But the great merit of Ivanov the idealist, the thinker, lies precisely in the fact that he points to the models, he leads the way to them, he awakens one, he stirs one, and he does not permit any cheap satisfaction; he forces his pupils to set themselves lofty and demanding tasks' (Vek, 1861, No. 15). Thus, Ivanov is reduced here to the level of a useful teacher, a waymarker, a guidepost for future artists, while he himself is a failure, immature, lacking fire, creative power, and inspiration, an artist who stands a million miles not only from the 'great ones' - the real artists who, in happier times, were once able to utter their 'loud word', who were able to be 'great, triumphant models' - but even from Briullov, who was able to express truthfully 'whatever he wished'! What sad short-sightedness! What pitiful fruits of innate prejudice and blind fetishism before the firmly implanted 'classical authorities'! Such people endlessly repeat the fate of the Jews: the Messiah came long ago, but they still cannot see or hear Him, they still move Him either into the distant past or into the distant future, while the vital present slips through their fingers. There is no creative power, no inspiration in this Christ, in this great thundering John the Baptist! Nor in these Apostles, never before presented with such truth and power! Nor in this heterogeneous Jewish crowd that is now arisen from its two-thousand-year-old death with a beauty, a fullness of feeling, thought, and spirit that had never before appeared in the work of European artists. Forget for a second the prejudices gained from textbooks, from the slavish worship of authorities, and your sense of life will show you at once what that wonderful, magnificent page of history, translated by Ivanov to the canvas with such genius and power really is. Ivanov is the Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci of our age. All three share the same faults and virtues, or at least of the same type: a certain classical conventionality, an incomplete immersion in the flow of life, a voluntary self-limitation to one nation, one direction, one side of the spirit. That which, in our age, seems insufficient and unsatisfactory in the work of these major artists all springs from these faults in their point of departure.

All his life Ivanov retained that classicism that he was imbued with from outside and that was so alien to the essence of his spirit. His moral and artistic masquerade continued only until 1847-1848. Then there occurred an immense turning point in Ivanov's life and work, and thereafter a new era began for him. Sergei Ivanov wrote to me in 1862, saying: 'The year 1848 placed a remarkable limitation on my brother's work on his picture. Not only could there be no thought of any financial subvention from the government, but even those who wished to remain at their own expense were ordered to leave Italy. (18) In these circumstances the painting was virtually abandoned owing to lack of funds, and from that year on my brother began to draw the sketches that make up all the albums that he left after his death. My brother was particularly led to do this by the fact that the money that he had left (a small sum after the death of our father in that same year of 1848) was insufficient to complete the painting in the proper way, because as he got close to the end large sums were needed to pay models. The compositions he was now engaged on did not require any outlay, either for models or for paints. He preferred to do these drawings and wait for better times, which he supposed would begin before too long.'

Thus, the principal reason for Ivanov's new activity was material hardship, a shortage of funds that was more severe and less soluble than in previous years. But there was another reason behind Ivanov's determination to set out on a new path, one that was a thousand times deeper and stronger. This was a great intellectual transformation, determined primarily, of course, by the most profound requirements of his own nature, but developed and honed by contemporary events in the Europe of that time and by the diverse new programme of reading undertaken by Ivanov at that period in his life. The relevant comments of Sergei Ivanov have been cited above.

Ivanov's horizons were widened and deepened. He was no longer content to present scenes from the Bible with the maximum realism and historical and national accuracy, and with all the warmth and inspiration that his sincere talent lent him. Realism and the specificity of national types in the presentation of biblical scenes were also being attempted at that time by other artists: Horace Vernet, (19) Paul Delaroche, (20) in part even Overbeck, each of them, of course, within the bounds of his one-sidedness and limited talent. But Ivanov could not be satisfied with this alone. His thought and his talent were headed towards new horizons and, in the form of an illustration of the life of Christ, he was contemplating a huge undertaking that would encompass whole swathes of history. 'My brother had the idea', Sergei Ivanov told me, 'of including in his compositions the whole life and activity of Christ. The plan was to paint the walls of a building specially set aside for the purpose, not of course a church. The subjects were to be divided up as follows: the principal large section of each wall was to have been filled with a painting or paintings depicting the most remarkable events of Christ's life; above it or them (as it were, round the border, although this word is not quite right here) there were to be represented, on a much smaller scale, those customs or sayings that derive from that incident or that later became associated with it, or else subjects from those parts of the Old Testament that speak of similar events or that mention the Messiah, etc. These compositions, which fill all the albums and account for most of the individual drawings were conceived, sketched out in charcoal, then refined, all simultaneously, although this took place over a period of eight years, that is from 1849, the year of Ivanov's return to St Petersburg, until the beginning of 1858, the year of his death. There is much evidence to support the view that it was like that. The first and main evidence is, of course, the drawing itself, freed from any mannerism and transformed into an easy and obedient vehicle for the expression of thought.'

Thus, the year 1848 freed Ivanov from the enchanted circle of the same painting, the one and only painting that had until then occupied all his thoughts, his hopes and his efforts. Now all at once the dams that had held him in the same place for twelve years were breached and everything that had built up in him over that time as a result of study, secluded contemplation, and emotion suddenly burst out in a huge, irrepressible flood. In the new period of eight years he created more than in the whole of the rest of his life. He could no longer be accused of being slow, of dawdling. Ivanov was entirely transformed from head to toe. He was a new man, completely different from the person who had arrived in Italy eighteen years earlier, the meek pupil of his father and of the St Petersburg Academy who sought to imitate the great models of yesteryear and who reached their level in his picture. This was a new man, a new artist, no longer half-Italian like all who stay a long time in Italy. This was an artist offering his own ideas and his own art, entirely independent and experimenting with new forms for the new ideas. In eight years he created (easily, freely, without the slightest sign of effort or strain) hundreds of scenes and figures that poured out instantly from his blazing imagination. These drawings, which were left to the city of Moscow in his brother's will, represent Ivanov's main claim to immortality. Apart from the fact that they are immeasurably greater than The Appearance of Christ To the People, notwithstanding all the great merits of that painting, when one looks at Ivanov's albums one cannot fail to be convinced that such profound, comprehensive illustration of the Bible and the Gospels has never before been accomplished. I well remember the stunning effect that these albums had on me when I first saw them, here in St Petersburg and thanks to M.P. Botkin, (21) a few weeks after Ivanov's death. For a long time I was in a state of shock, so fresh and innovative was the creative imagination, so original were the forms and concepts. Later I tried several times to express this in print. I believe that when the publication of the drawings is finally complete and everyone has access to them, they will create a huge impression everywhere and will give rise to a great many imitators and successors, especially in Russia, where, in Ivanov's words, 'the freshness and energy of the young people promises a golden age for the next generation'; and where, again according to Ivanov, '[Russians] are fated to arrive last at the arena of spiritual development and to achieve everything calmly, by means of sensible criticism'.

It is not possible for me to examine here the many hundreds of drawings and compositions that fill the albums of Ivanov's last years. That would require a special book-length study, which will probably be written in due course. But even now I believe that anyone who is fortunate enough to see the great man's gallery of artistic creations (complete with the faults it undoubtedly has) will say with total conviction that it is rare in the history of art to come across a series of works like this that combine majesty and spiritual profundity with grace and beauty, that combine such power in the depiction of the inspiration of the Old Testament prophets with such vitality and elegance in the depiction of scenes of Jewish domestic life. ... Filled with real emotion and real characters, with the expression of varied spiritual conditions, it all forms a great and profoundly truthful epic, the likes of which has not been encountered in the painting of any country.

But Ivanov did not rest even here, at this second stage of his development. In 1857 and 1858 he moved further forward by contemplating something new. In Germany, London and St Petersburg he told people who were intellectually and spiritually close to him that he could no longer restrict himself to religious painting. Of course, he had no intention of abandoning such painting altogether. Perhaps the best proof of this is the fact that Ivanov came to see me in the Public Library in 1858, (22) not long before his death, and asked me to show him everything that I knew of that had authentic, ancient depictions of Christ on mosaics, frescoes and other monuments. Let me say, by the way, that he had long known about all the existing material of this type better than I! Moreover, also in 1858 Ivanov planned to travel from St Petersburg to Palestine, to Jerusalem. Finally, at that same time he said that he 'took the subjects for his art primarily' from the Gospels (Biography, p. XXXII). (23) So, Ivanov undoubtedly continued to be a religious painter, and he was mistaken when he said that he considered he had lost all his former faith and could no longer see a way out. That he was mistaken is indicated by his own words: 'I am tormented by my inability to formulate through art; I cannot embody my new vision, and I consider that to touch the old one would be criminal' (Biography, p. XXIII). If a person considers it criminal to touch his old beliefs, then it is clear that he has not broken with those old beliefs, but is merely looking for a new formula for them. Ivanov, who had been engaged with the Bible throughout his whole life, could not suddenly abandon it. Breaking with your entire former life at the age of more than fifty comes at a price; the only possible outcome is fatal. But Ivanov did not fall and he did not die, he did not lose his faith. He held onto everything old, but he also went forward, and on the way he collected enormous new tasks. He no longer intended to sacrifice all other subjects and tasks as he had done previously.

In St Petersburg in 1858 Ivanov said: 'The idea of the new art according to modern concepts and requirements is not yet entirely clear to me. I still have to work long and hard on the development of my ideas. Until I complete this I won't begin producing new paintings' (Biography, p. XXXI). Of course, it is a difficult and impertinent task to try to read the soul of an artist when he himself could not give a clear account of its passionate aspiration. Nevertheless, I believe that some extracts from Ivanov's letters allow us to some extent to see the direction in which his talent would have gone had he lived, and had he begun work on those 'new' paintings that he spoke of in 1858. As early as the beginning of 1837 Ivanov wrote to the Society for the Encouragement of Artists: 'If I and my contemporaries are not fortunate enough to succeed, then the generation following us will undoubtedly build a highway leading to Russian glory, and instead of The Miracle of Bolsena, and Attila Defeated by the Pope's Blessing, (24) our descendants will see great epochs from world and Russian history executed with that full antiquarian accuracy that is so needed in our age.' In 1858, in another letter, he declared that he fully agreed with the public when, not entirely satisfied with his large painting, it demanded 'the living resurrection of the ancient world'. It was this, clearly, that he hoped and intended would replace the former subjects and tasks of Raphael, The Miracle of Bolsena, and Attila Defeated by the Pope's Blessing. The resurrection of the old world, the resurrection of the brilliant epochs of Russian and world history. He predicted success on this new path, if not for himself then for others, for future Russian artists, 'who are preparing themselves for painting's major highway'. Such were Ivanov's plans, such was the wonderful, fresh, energetic mood of this fifty-two-year-old man, old in years but younger in spirit than any of his comrades!

Ivanov did not know or understand the Realist movement that, in his time, was beginning to emerge in European art, especially in France. He termed French Naturalism, and indeed the whole school of genre painting 'the depraved Paris School', and in 1845 he warned his brother Sergei off it. If he had seen the works with his own eyes he would have been even less able to foresee and understand the success and significance of that powerful modern school of Realism that began in the 1850s and developed in Europe only ten to fifteen years later. The only art that Ivanov understood was 'monumental'; he was unable to comprehend anything else. For this reason, art that drew its inspiration from everyday life seemed to him to be shallow, insignificant, or 'a joke'. But it would be madness to demand of a character, however great, something that had not been put into it and that was alien to it. Therefore, I will do no more here than repeat the wonderful words with which Ivanov was greeted in 1857 by one of the greatest of Russian writers, Herzen. (25) 'Praise to the Russian artist, endless praise', he said to Ivanov with tears in his eyes as he rushed to embrace him. 'I do not know if you will find the forms for your ideal visions, but you are not only a great example to artists, you are evidence of the whole and untouched Russian character which we can sense, which we get a hint of in our hearts and for which, in spite of everything that is going on, we love Russia so passionately and have such fervent hopes for her future.'

More than twenty years have passed since then. It would seem to be high time we started to acknowledge and love Ivanov, who was at first not understood and then forgotten.