Origins of Mikhail Vrubel's Demoniana series

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Title: Origins of Mikhail Vrubel's Demoniana series
Author: Fakhri, Amina
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Humanistinen tiedekunta, Filosofian, historian, kulttuurin ja taiteiden tutkimuksen laitos 2010-2017
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies 2010-2017
Helsingfors universitet, Humanistiska fakulteten, Institutionen för filosofi, historia, kultur- och konstforskning 2010-2017
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2020
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: taidehistoria
Art History
Abstract: The Demoniana series is the most researched of all of Mikhail Vrubel's work, yet the origins of the series' imagery remain neglected. Scholars have attributed Demoniana's imagery to a literary origin - the poem Demon by Mikhail Lermontov. Focusing on the relationship between the painted material of the series, Demon seated (1890), Demon in-flight (1899), Demon downcast (1902), and Six-Winged Seraph (Azrael) (1904) in addition to the illustrations to the poem in the Jubilee edition of Lermontov's poetry published in 1899-1891, my research challenges the assumptions of the continuity of the Demoniana series and shows that the basis for its imagery can be found in Vrubel's earlier works. In his Demoniana series, Vrubel is searching for a new kind of hero, one that he felt certain would make his name immortal. The character of the fallen angel, in Vrubel's view, a tortured soul, not necessarily evil, was an interesting choice considering the influence of the church in the society at that time. In many ways, the artist identified personally with this character. Demoniana was not only a quest for artistic immortality but also an attempt to determine a contemporary representation of a kind of spirituality, a search for the path to salvation. Setting the Demoniana series imagery in the context of a broader field of Vrubel's works, I am planning to contrast his borrowed and invented imagery from earlier sketches and murals with the literary inspiration of Lermontov's poem in the illustrations. I shall argue that Mikhail Vrubel’s version of the character of the Demon is different from Mikhail Lermontov's. Exploring issues of Vrubel's religious painting tradition and the origins of his unique technique I attempt to show how the artist accomplished his own interpretation and embodiment of the character of the Demon.
Subject: art history
Mikhail Vrubel

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