“The Apotheosis of War”, Painting Vereshchagin – description

Description of the picture:

The apotheosis of war – Vasily Vereshchagin. 1871. Oil on canvas. 100 20 seven x 100 ninety seven cm

   This canvas can be considered the most catchy and expressive exposer of the horrors of war. Although it was created under the impression of the primitive ruthlessness of the eastern conquerors, it does not have a narrow focus – it is addressed to everyone who started and starts a war. No wonder the creator himself left an inscription on the canvas frame that the painting is dedicated to the conquerors of the past, real and future.

   According to legend, behind the troops of Timur remained piles of corpses and skulls, folded into a pyramid. Even in those days when the painter lived, the barbarian tradition was preserved – the eastern rulers regarded the severed parts of the body of the opponents as war trophies. The painter took this habit as a sign. As a result, a picture unique in its own expressive power came out, which has not lost its relevance in our time.

   By the force of influence on the mind of the beholder contained in this canvas, it can be fully associated with the best works of Dali, as it is saturated with the very spirit of symbolism. But, unlike Dali, her symbolism is not harmless and devoid of abstractness. All that is depicted on the canvas is the signs of the first definite, ferocious and inevitable disaster – war.

   Depriving the picture of the corresponding temporary, historical clues, the painter made it a reflection of the result of all military operations, regardless of when and where they could take place. The war produced such an effect a thousand years ago, in our days, and it can remain that way in the future. The canvas simply yells about it: “People, look what you are doing !?”.

   The tremendous expressive power of the canvas was achieved by the smallest artistic means. Before us is a wide panorama representing a deserted, scorched area with individual surviving skeletons of burned, charred trees. There is no life in it, there is not a drop of greenish color – only dead yellowish sand and dark dry trees. The only sign of life here is a pack of dark ravens, signs of perdition. They are everywhere on the canvas — they fly in the sky, sit on trees, and crawl on the fallen.

   In the distance a ruined city is shown, also depicted with yellowish “dry” colors. It is empty and abandoned, there are no inhabitants left in it, in general there is nothing alive. The whole picture of mass devastation is illuminated by the colorful bloodthirsty sun under a cool, dead and phlegmatic sky.

   On the frontal plan of the canvas is a large mountain of human skulls folded into a pyramid. Crows sit on it, and a huge number of traces from strikes by sabers and bullets indicate that before us are the intercessors and peaceful inhabitants of the town. This is what war brought with it – destruction, destruction and complete devastation. The land that once was catchy and flourishing, full of life and joy, turned into a terrible place, where only scavengers remained.

   The picture does not indicate either a specific place of the act, nor the time period, nor the one who committed all these atrocities. Although at first the picture was thought to be historical, reflecting the results of Tamerlane’s campaigns, which was famous for its ruthlessness and special predilection for cutting off heads, the plan outgrew itself. The canvas has become an excellent exposer of all wars. Wherever they are fought, no matter what people fight for, the result of wars is always the same – massive stupid victims destroyed to the base of the town, terrible lands turned into barren deserts inhabited only by crows and creeping reptiles.

   The painter, who had participated in hostilities all his life and gave his life for the tsar and the Fatherland, like no one else knew the essence of the war, saw its results with his own eyes. He managed to make a picture unique in expressiveness and symbolism – a colorful exposure of the ruthlessness of war."