The painting by Mikhail Nesterov, called “Solovki”, is now presented in the Hermitage.
The North attracted the painter with its piercingly beautiful nature, but the Solovetsky Monastery was not chosen by chance because they can encounter another kind of beauty - spiritual. That is why the heroes of his paintings of the Solovetsky cycle were mainly local elders and nuns.
In the painting “Solovki” people are depicted as if from a distance: an old man and a younger monk are sitting in a boat that is about to reach the coast on one of the islands. The large one depicts a white stone chapel. Nearby are fussy gulls who are already used to people on these shores. The second major object is a rocky island that appears blue at dusk. And of course, the bottomless northern sky.
It would seem that it's just a plot painting, but it is also a true symbol of faith: the chapel in the picture seems to rest against the golden sun strip in the sky with a cross. Man here is perceived as a secondary being, in relation to God, to faith.
It can be seen that the people sitting in the boat do not think their life without serving the Almighty. And this gives them some inexplicable confidence and strength, which is felt in the pose of a monk leaning on oars. He and the cold White Sea do not care if his whole life is devoted to service. He knows that he will not go astray, even if the waves begin to throw the boat from side to side ...
It was these feelings that Mikhail Nesterov was looking for, going to Solovki. And fate gave him not only a date with the extraordinary nature that captivates with its sad beauty, but also acquaintances with local people.
The artist studied their customs, dreaming of creating an epoch-making canvas “Holy Russia”. But before that no less beautiful and harmonious paintings were written, the last of which is Solovki.
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