Museums and Art

The painting "Ivan the Terrible and his son Ivan November 16, 1581", Ilya Repin

The painting

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Ivan the Terrible and his son Ivan - Ilya Efimovich Repin. 199.5 x 254 cm

One can hardly find Repin's painting more famous than this. Tsar Ivan the Terrible killed his son Ivan, thereby interrupting the Rurikovich dynasty, which ruled Russia from the 9th century.

The moment of insight and awareness of the deed appears before the viewer in all tragedy. The king is in a panic, before us is not an autocratic ruler, but an old man maddened by grief and horror. Clutching his son’s dead body tightly, he tries to close the wound in his temple, from which scarlet blood still runs. He is desperately trying to fix the irreparable.

They are opposed to each other - the figures of a dead son and a living king. Compositionally, the picture is built so that at first the attention is riveted on a dead body, a second ago full of strength, energy, life. Then the viewer sees the insane eyes of the killer father. The bony hands, cadaverous yellowness of the face of the formidable king speak of a dead spiritual essence. It was as if they had changed places: the dead Ivan the son and the still alive Ivan the father.

The atmosphere of tacky horror is completed by the situation of the royal chambers: red carpets, an overturned chair, a murder weapon (royal staff), red walls. It seems that blood is everywhere. The shadow of a crime witness in the doorway is barely noticeable. Another moment and people will appear in their chambers to hide all traces of the murder.

An interesting detail is the frame on the wall. The artist allows the viewer to independently think over the purpose of this frame. In the twilight of the chambers it is impossible to make out. Picture? Mirror? Icon? Rather, a mirror that does not reflect what is happening. Since the undead are not reflected in the mirror, the Slavs have believed in this since time immemorial.

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