5/31/11

Mikhail Vrubel, The Demon and Tamara


The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Date: 1890-91
Technique: Watercolor and whitening on paper, 66.5 x 50 cm

Inspired by Lermontov's poem "The Demon," Vrubel's Demon series was his crowning achievement.
Lermontov's epic poem opens with The Demon, a fallen angel, flying among the clouds of the Caucasus sky. Soon the condemned Demon sees the beautiful princess Tamara, and, in an attempt to avoid his lonely fate, decides to seduce her. Upon finding out that she is engaged to be married, The Demon becomes torn between his love for Tamara and his own destructive nature. In a desperate but deliberate following of his heart, he wishes death upon the young man and pursues a mourning Tamara into the walls of a convent. At last, she consents to the Demon's love and in an passionate embrace, perishes in his arms. In the end, the lonely and desolate Demon tearfully watches an angel carry Tamara's soul to heaven, leaving the Demon in the lonely state from where he began.

Vrubel chose to emphasize the spiritual love and unavailing circumstances that surround Tamara demise, rather than the Demon's evil nature. In "The Demon and Tamara," the androgynous Demon and tearful Tamara embrace each other in a less sexual and more spiritual manner. The outward beauty of Vrubel's characters seems to overcome the terrible predestined fate that is about to follow. The human and heavenly nature of their love is portrayed in the lover's emotional glances and the shining stars above.

Source 1
Source 2

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