Description of the painting by Isaac Levitan “On the Volga” (1888)

Description of the painting by Isaac Levitan “On the Volga” (1888)

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The painting depicts the Volga coast, overgrown with grass near the water, and on a hill covered with dense shrubs and trees that appear in the water, which flickers at dusk. Water recreates the rays of the setting sun gliding over it, telling it a certain mystery and incomprehensibility. The reflections seem to overlap with the dark green reflections of the tree crowns, making them lighter, giving them blue and bluish tones, painting the water with bright colors.

The tops of the trees on the high bank are also illuminated by the setting sun and depicted in contrasting light tones. In the foreground, thanks to the play of light, river water is shown completely white. The opposite bank of the river is not visible, it is from him that the artist observes the landscape, which helps him to strengthen the feeling of the vastness of the great river.

In the center of greenery and blue color, there are some warm ocher colors on a steep clay coast, free from grass cover. This brownish-red spot reflects in the mirror of water, doubling the impression of warmth. And the protruding bridges and the boat thrown not far from them in the absence of people complement the feeling of desolation and confusion, although the audience does not experience anxiety and tension. The lack of plot and dynamics convey the sad and touching experiences of the author. The image of the Volga, calmly spread out before nightfall, conveys a picture of the everyday life of the great Russian river.

The sky on the canvas is an even grayish color, almost without shades and nuances, only in the very corners of the canvas light clouds stand out slightly. The painting “On the Volga” impresses with its touching penetration into the soul; it conveys the author’s anxious and restless state, which filled it with a special philosophical meaning. The majestic freedom of the Russian river, the strict lyrics of the Volga landscape revealed to the author the unusual appearance of domestic nature, and interested him in powerful epic splendor.

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