The Guslari by Victor Vasnetsov

The Guslari by Victor Vasnetsov

Victor Vasnetsov – one of the most famous and recognizable masters of painting, on the canvases of which come to life the heroes of fairy tales, epics and legends of deep antiquity. In his works he managed to convey the originality and uniqueness of Russian folk culture, a special “Russian spirit” and world outlook. With his paintings are introduced in early childhood, but incredible impressions of them throughout life remain as bright as at the first meeting.

Trembling respect and love for the world of Ancient Rus imbued with a picture of “Guslar”, written in 1899. The artist

takes the viewer many centuries ago, revealing a large light wooden hut with thick, as it should be, beam-beams and a roughly wooded plank floor. Against the background of the purple-blue sky, which is seen through the roughly cut arch of the window, three ghuslars are sitting on a red wooden bench. Going through the strings of gusli, they sing about the boundless native spaces, the calm and majestic beauty of the Russian land and its mighty people.

Guslar are not accidental characters in the picture. Many of the heroes of epic tales and legends played on the harp – the heroes Alyosha Popovich and Dobrynya Nikitich, Sadko and Bayan – the author of The Lay of Igor’s Campaign. Musical instruments helped them to perform feats, because according to legend, tuned in a special way, gusli influenced human feelings, causing laughter and tears, hypnotized and brought to sleep. Always in Russia people who own the game on this musical instrument, enjoyed great respect and honor, were welcome guests in every home.

The Guslar in Vasnetsov’s painting are not epic heroes. These are wandering monks who can be identified by the characteristic white patterned garment. There are three singers – and this is very symbolic. A young pink-cheeked young man, a gray-haired old man and a middle-aged man sing in a fit.

The brown-haired boy is playing the harp with zeal and singing. Flushed cheeks give out his excitement and emotions. The young man is blind. Perhaps this is the artist wanted to show the reckless blindness of youth, or to give the picture a halo of mysticism, portraying a holy fool – the ancient Slavs believed in their special gift and abilities. The elder-guslar is like a fairy magician, a kind sorcerer, whose voice is endowed with a special magical power. Here, old age is a symbol of wisdom. The third guslar is a mature man who has crossed the threshold of youth, but has not yet passed the path of life. His face, thrown back in the gust of the game, expresses the most vivid emotions and experiences of a person who has seen a lot on his way and is ready to see even more.

Three guslar – three ages – three characters. The artist managed to unite the past, present and future in one picture, to transfer the connection of three generations, the intertwining of youthful timidity, serious maturity and wise old age.

Viktor Vasnetsov managed to write a musical and psychological picture, looking at which every spectator hears the measured tunes of guslars, the melody of the wide Russian soul and is imbued with the charm of folk culture.

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