The whole life path of the artist was accompanied, in fact, by one woman - Nina Zabela, his wife. This statement can be safely applied to the work of Vrubel. No matter what female heroines the artist paints on his canvases - the Sea Princess, Spring or Margarita - one could notice Nina's features in them.
A smile that slightly illuminated the mouth, large eyes, a somewhat elongated oval face, a thin figure and long thin hands - all this becomes an integral feature of Vrubel’s female heroines. At the same time, the artist more than once created portraits of his wife.
The painting "Muse" (1896), now stored in the Tretyakov Gallery, refers to one of them. However, we should not forget that we are faced with a special variation of the portrait genre - portrait-fantasy, portrait-fiction, in which there is no place for trivial realism and crude naturalism.
This is especially manifested in the unusually deep eyes of a woman who seems ready to sparkle with emerald infernal fire at any moment. The same applies to Nina’s loose hair, which at some point lose their materiality, become something like an incorporeal wind, a flame.
In the very appearance of the heroine, in the colors surrounding her, something fabulous slips: the artistic experience of Vrubel affects. So they immediately recall the “Golden Cockerel” or “The Tale of the Dead Princess” by Pushkin. At the same time, a certain touch of decorativeness, a trait inherent in most Symbolist artists and especially Vrubel, is felt in the picture.
Note that a similar characteristic applies to another artist’s “Muse” - a painting painted several years earlier. And on this canvas, the image of Nina sitting on a bench is not without a certain conditional decorativeness, theatricality, for which we love and appreciate Vrubel’s work.
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