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“Princess Dream”: why did the imperial academy reject the picture of Vrubel?

This magnificent panel is called the most famous in Moscow. Panel, which was approved by the emperor himself, but rejected by the Academy of Arts. What did Princess Dreams like about the emperor and for what did she get a public response?

Artist Biography
Artist Mikhail Vrubel was born in Omsk. He studied at the Faculty of Law at St. Petersburg University, and then studied at the Academy of Arts. He was a comprehensively talented person: an artist, a graphic artist, a designer of arts and crafts, an illustrator, and even an architect.
It is said that Vrubel’s decision to enter the Academy of Arts after university was influenced by his interest in Kant’s philosophy and aesthetics. On the other hand, there is a more or less usual explanation of how Vrubel became a professional artist. As a student, he was involved in the artistic environment by his uncle (his stepmother’s brother, Vrubel’s mother died when Mikhail was three years old). This was a famous teacher Nikolai Wessel, familiar with many representatives of the artistic intelligentsia, especially from the musical and theatrical spheres (including Mussorgsky). Of course, this left an imprint on the artistic taste of Vrubel – his paintings and plots often often bear theatrical implication.
At the age of 24, Vrubel enters the Imperial Academy of Art. Vrubel’s teacher at the Academy was Pavel Chistyakov, an outstanding teacher whose students were Repin, Surikov, Polenov, Vasnetsov, Serov and others. Vrubel’s early works have a specific romantic note that has become his hallmark (just remember “The Demon Sitting”, “Princess” Dreaming “or” Swan Princess “)

Many of Vrubel’s works are monumental. It’s not even the size of his paintings, although ordinary visitors are usually struck by the huge “Princess of Dreams” and other large canvases from the Tretyakov Gallery. Monumentality lies in the special plastic of the paintings and the special brush stroke of Vrubel. In his work, Vrubel was extremely ordinary: he could work on one painting for months, start, but did not finish his work, give it as a gift, destroy or underestimate it. Sometimes he wrote new works on an old canvas. For example, the famous “Pan” was painted over the portrait of his wife, and the “Fortune Teller” was painted over the unfinished portrait of N. Mamontov.

At that time, an art circle was formed around the famous Russian businessman and philanthropist Savva Mamontov, and Vrubel became its full member. He had a very warm relationship with Mamontov, after two months of meeting Vrubel even moved to his house, becoming a full member of his family. Thanks to Mamontov, Vrubel began to receive valuable orders. In 1891, he was invited to illustrate the collected works of Lermontov. He willingly accepted the order, especially since he began to think about the image of the Demon long before this proposal. As you know, it was the image of the demon that became Vrubel’s calling card.
“Princess Dreams”
In 1896, Savva Mamontov ordered Vrubel the panels “Mikula Selyaninovich” and “Princess Dream” for the All-Russian Industrial and Art Exhibition in Nizhny Novgorod. Vrubel was then practically unknown to the general public. Mamontov liked the prepared sketches and Vrubel completed both canvases.

“Princess Dreams” was created based on the plot of the play by Edmond Rostan in the Russian translation by T. L. Shchepkin-Kupernik. The premiere of the play on the Russian stage took place in January 1896 in St. Petersburg. This romantic story of an exalted desire for love and perfect beauty, the contemplation of which is achieved at the cost of death, was a stunning success with the public. On the same story, they even created a “Princess Dream” waltz, perfumes and chocolates with the same name.
The plot is as follows: the troubadour heard many legends and stories about the incomparable beauty and generosity of the princess, whom she passionately fell in love with. Although he had never seen her, the troubadour was amazed at the tales of her beauty and generosity. He goes on a journey through the seas to meet his beloved for the first time and tell her about his feelings. The path was not close and the troubadour fell seriously ill. The forces leave him, but he whispers a song about Princess Melisinda, seeing her image next to him. He was brought to the princess unconscious. A beautiful girl soars in the air, her blond hair fluttering in the wind. She bent over the poet and heeded him, giving strength. When the beautiful princess hugged the unfortunate, he suddenly woke up, saw his beloved and … fell asleep with an eternal sleep. The princess wished to abandon worldly life and became a nun.
The dimensions of the canvas are truly monumental – the width reaches 14 meters and the height is 7.5 meters. The canvas was painted using pastel and charcoal. The palette is replete with golden, pearl gray and olive flowers. All these obscure, soft and airy midtones give the impression of a fabulous event.

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