Oil on Canvas
131 x 155
State Russian Museum
Six-Winged Seraph is linked to the theme of the prophetic mission of the artist, one that greatly occupied Symbolists of various lands and times. From the 1890s onwards, inspired by Alexander Pushkin’s poem The Prophet, Mikhail Vrubel dedicated a series of compositions in painting and graphic art to this theme. The artist seems to paint an inner vision of a “fire-like” messenger of God, an angel with a fiery gaze, the patron and merciless judge of the artist-prophet, reminding artists of their sublime mission and calling them “to burn people’s hearts with a word” and awaken their souls “from the trifles of everyday life with majestic images.” Vrubel’s inner experiences of the time when he was working on Fallen Demon are reflected in the painting’s sublime construction and its assiduity of feeling. The startling tones conjure up associations with the Byzantine mosaics in Venice and Ravenna seen by the artist in his youth.
Vrubel, Mikhail Alexandrovich
1856, Omsk -1910, St Petersburg
Painter, draughtsman, theatrical designer, applied artist, portraitist, writer of philosophical Symbolist compositions. Studied law at St Petersburg University (1874-79) and art under Pavel Chistyakov at the Imperial Academy of Arts (1880-84). Academician of painting (1905). Member of the Abramtsevo circle (from 1889). Contributed to exhibitions (from 1891). Contributed to the exhibitions of the Moscow Fellowship of Artists (1895, 1899, 1904), Exhibition of Russian and Finnish Artists (1898), World of Art (1900-03, 1906; member from 1900, 1911), 36 Artists (1901, 1902), Union of Russian Artists (1903-10; founding member), Exposition Universelle in Paris (1900; gold medal) and the International Exhibitions in Vienna (1901) and Venice (1907). Designed for Sawa Mamontov''s Russian Private Opera (1890-1901).