HISTORY OF A MASTERPIECE
#3 2021 (72)
The composition “The Swan Princess” (Tretyakov Gallery) was produced by Mikhail Vrubel in 1900, when he was designing sets for Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s operas at Savva Mamontov’s Russian Private Opera. Like the images from the “Demon” series, this painting projects an inscrutable magnetism. Many mysteries remain about both the history of the creation of the painting and the image of the enchanting bird maiden from the fairy tale. Among the most important of these is the identity of the model for the fair Swan Princess. Does the composition indeed feature Nadezhda Ivanovna Zabela-Vrubel - the artist’s wife and muse, as well as a splendid opera diva who performed the Swan Princess in Rimsky- Korsakov’s opera - or is it a composite image born of the artist’s imagination?