Cemetery among cypress trees by Vasily Polenov

Cemetery among cypress trees by Vasily Polenov

Polenov’s interest in the theater was awakened under the influence of S. Mamontov. Mamontov’s theatrical activity was based on the idea of creating, in his own words, the “truly beautiful new world.”

This creation assumed the transformation of reality into a certain conventional poetic world built on the ideals of heroism and beauty. The very “pedagogical” thought was close to Polenov, and he plunged into theatrical work, having designed many Mammoth performances.

Especially he succeeded scenery for productions, fabulously transforming reality. So, his design of

the fairy tale play by S. Mamontov “Scarlet Rose” by V. Vasnetsov was called “brilliant”. The principles of the master’s theatrical work are perfectly illustrated by the sketch of the scenery for the 1st act of Orpheus and Eurydice, set in the Private Opera, by The Cemetery Among the Cypress Trees, a stylization of nature according to modernist canons, which soon became the rule in theatrical art.

No less interesting is the sketch of the scenery “Altar and walls in the Gothic style”, 1899 for the opera by P. Tchaikovsky “Orlean Maiden”. The logical development of this attitude of Polenov to the theater was his activity in organizing folk theaters, which peaked in the 1910s.

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