Feel Art Again: "The Boyarynia Morozova"

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Vasily Surikov was born on this date 160 years ago. The Russian painter is most known for his strikingly realistic historical paintings. In honor of his birthday, let's take a look at the snow-filled "The Boyarynia Morozova," one of his historical paintings.

1. Although he's known as a Russian painter, Vasily Surikov was actually born in Siberia. He first moved to Russia at age 21, in 1869, to study at the Academy of the Arts, though he didn't actually become a student until 1870. Six years later, he moved again, this time to Moscow, which he found to be similar to his hometown of Krasnoyarsk in Siberia.

2. The Academy of Arts awarded him the title "academic" and he was elected to the Moscow Society of Lovers of the Arts, but he declined several teaching offers at the Moscow College of Painting and the Academy of Arts.

3. Surikov spent over 4 years sketching for "The Boyarynia Morozova." This dedication to producing a realistic historical painting is evident in the highly detailed clothing, the expressive faces, and even the snow. (For a better view, check out the large version of the painting here.)

4. "The Boyarynia Morozova" depicts the arrest of Feodosia Morozova, one of the most well-known of the Old Believers. In 1653, Patriarch Nikon began reforming the Russian Orthodox Church to create uniformity between the Greek and Russian practices. Some members were upset by the reforms, believing he was only trying to strengthen his own authority. Some petitioned the tsar about certain practices and the changes to the divine holy books. The Old Believers, or those who were against the reforms, refer to the time as the Raskol, or schism. In the painting, Morozova has two fingers raised, which was the traditional way to make the sign of the cross. It's a sign of defiance, since the reform replaced the two-finger sign with a three-finger sign of the cross.

5. Surikov died after an illness on March 19, 1916. His last words were "I'm disappearing."

"˜Feel Art Again' appears every Tuesday and Thursday.