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The Mother of God of Tenderness Towards Evil Hearts

Petrov-Vodkin Kuzma,
Oil on canvas
100,2 x 110

State Russian Museum


Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin spent a lot of time between 1913 and 1915 working on murals in the cathedrals of Kronstadt and Sumy. This may have been what inspired the appearance of such a remarcable easel work as The Mother of God of Tenderness Towards Evil Hearts.
This was the author’s title, in Orthodox iconography the image is known as The Mother of God of Softening of Evil Hearts. Created at the start of the First World War, Petrov-Vodkin’s picture acquired a special significance as the artist’s spiritual response to the tragic events of the war.
Despite the small size, a canvas is a major monumental work, burning with the fire of a sublime spiritual force. The painter himself said that the face was “the highest possible form of expression”.
This instilling and lofty icon of the Virgin Mary is one of the most powerful images in the oeuvre of Petrov-Vodkin.

Author's Biography

Petrov-Vodkin Kuzma

Petrov-Vodkin, Kuzma Sergeyevich
1878, Khvalynsk (Saratov Province) -1939, Leningrad
Painter, graphic artist, writer on art, history painter, portraitist. Studied at the Baron Stieglitz Central School of Technical Drawing (1895-97), under Abram Arkhipov and Valentin Serov at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1897-1904), at Anton Aube''s school in Munich (1901) and private academies in Paris. Contributed to exhibitions (from 1898). Contributed to the Salon d''Automne (1906-07, 1908), Sergei Makovsky Salon (1909), Union of Russian Artists (1909, 1910), Golden Fleece (1909), Union of Youth (1910), World of Art (191124), Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition (1912), First Free Exhibition of Works of Art (1919), Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia (1923, 1928), Four Arts (1925-29), World Exhibition in Brussels (1910) and the International Exhibitions in Rome (1911), Malmo (1914) and Venice (1924, 1928). Taught at the Elizaveta Zvantseva School of Painting and Drawing in St Petersburg (1910-15) and the Free Art Studios/Academy of Arts (1918-38). Honoured Artist of Russia (1930).

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