The picture of the Russian artist Konstantin Yegorovich Makovsky "Mermaid", created in 1879, at the time made a lot of noise. It was on display at the Traveling Exhibition, visited by Alexander II himself, despite the fact that the Russian emperor did not have an interest in art.
In East Slavic mythology, mermaids were considered not only mysterious characters living in rivers, but also specific people. According to old beliefs, it was believed that mermaids became girls who died before marriage, “enlisted”, but did not wait for the wedding, as well as unbaptized babies. They could also be people who died in the Russian week, which lasted from June 19 to 24.
The painting of Makovsky depicts just one of the Russian days. Previously, these days were called the feast of Rusalia. Due to the fact that mermaids were associated with the water element, according to Old Slavonic customs, they were called on holiday to prevent drought, despite the fact that they were considered "evil spirits." The Russian artist depicted his mythical heroines in their traditional place of residence - water and swaying on trees.
As in the superstitions, on Makovsky’s canvas, the mermaids have long, thick blond hair that falls below their shoulders and covers the upper naked body. They do not have a fish tail, because in Slavic mythology they have a human appearance. In folk culture, they personify the transition from the mysterious world of the dead to the earth, and vice versa. The palette of colors chosen by Makovsky perfectly conveys the mystical mood: against the background of a dark night, naked, surrounded by foggy haze bodies of beautiful mermaids go into the sky.
The artist for a reason depicts a church on the right. The feast of Rusalia in its content was purely pagan, which means it was a “godly thing”, the Lord is ready to cast out evil spirits.