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Mikhail Alexandrovich Vrubel is an artist with a difficult fate. His life resembles a drama. A successful young man, while studying at the law faculty of the university, was carried away by a bohemian lifestyle, fortunately, he found the talent of an artist. He began as an illustrator of books, showing himself a real romantic. After serving briefly in the army, at twenty-four, Mikhail decides to completely change his life and enters the Academy of Arts. However, she does not receive an artist’s diploma, although she starts to make good money by drawing to order. Pretty careless about the work, experiencing difficult and painful novels, Vrubel, nevertheless, creates a number of brilliant works and becomes popular. While painting Kiev churches, the artist simultaneously draws a Demon, which comes out with more soulful and emotional than standard religious works for customers. In the future, this image will pursue the creator, appearing on more and more new canvases.
The official jury and academicians did not recognize Vrubel's work, considering it monstrous; Nevertheless, the artist always had fans, and he managed to make good money. Often he drank all the money he earned. At the age of 40, Mikhail married the young actress Nadezhda Zabela; he made an offer to her almost on the first day of his acquaintance. But even in marriage, the artist did not show the ability to handle money, and often existed at the expense of his wife.
A few years after the wedding, the couple had a son, Savva; he was an outwardly strong, healthy, handsome boy, but with a defect, a cleft lip. At the time of the birth of his son and the first months of his life, Vrubel wrote his most famous Demon; however, he took a break from work to create a portrait of the six-month-old Savva. At this point, Nadezhda quit her artistic career, fully devoting herself to her son, and Mikhail was forced to earn money alone. He worked hard and eventually became depressed. The mental state of the artist was constantly deteriorating.
The boy's frowning face in the picture looks serious and frightened, even mournful; his huge blue, non-childish eyes are full of deep sadness. The child as if anticipates his tragic fate (the boy died at the age of two); also in his appearance and facial expression there is a strange physiognomic resemblance to the Demon, the main Vrubel character for all time. The blond-haired kid is depicted in a wicker made of twigs, in the background are pale yellow and pale lilac flowers. The boy’s face is complemented by pinkish pillows made of delicate fabric. Despite the mostly light, delicate colors of the canvas, it looks alarming and even tragic. It is obvious that the artist transferred his own anxiety and concern to the portrait image of Savva. At the time of painting, the artist was seriously ill, and before his first hospitalization in a psychiatric clinic there was very little time left.
David Lorenzo Bernini