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“Monk”, Konstantin Savitsky – description of the painting

Description of the picture:

Monk – Konstantin Apollonovich Savitsky. 1897. Oil on canvas. 89 x 68 cm
It seems like a clerical work, but it seems not. The painting “The Monk” by Konstantin Savitsky surprises and prompts thought.

Most of the canvas is a powerful figure of a monk in a black robe. His elbow stands on a thick bible, his right hand is wrapped in rosary, on the window you will notice branches of a willow that point to Palm Sunday, and an impressive cross adorns the wall behind his back. The usual situation in the cell, where the monk should rest.

But is the hero of Savitsky’s canvas calm? His whole article speaks of some unresolved issue, and his gaze reflects a whole gamut of emotions – fatigue, gloom, thoughtfulness, disappointment …

What does the monk think about? It is believed that his thoughts are occupied with heavy thoughts about the correctness of his chosen path. A handsome, healthy man dedicated his life to serving God, and now all his days will pass in the walls of the monastery, but does his soul want this?

It is known that as a sitter Savitsky invited a student of the Penza art school, which the artist headed until his death. Later this young man will become a Socialist-Revolutionary and in the troubled times of the first Russian revolution he will take up arms – he will shoot at the gendarme, the head of the Penza gendarmes department. From this point of view, it is difficult to disagree that Savitsky has found the exact type of person who does not agree with the surrounding conditions, we are torn by contradictions and is ready to fight for the good. An ideal sitter for writing a monk with a rebellious, doubting soul.

The picture was painted mainly in dark colors. The color of the canvas includes black, gold, beige, brown. With particular care, the artist wrote out clue elements: a willow on the window (a hint on Palm Sunday), a bible under the elbow, a rosary, a tense hand clenched into a fist, which speaks of the fury of resistance.

In 2012, the Russian Orthodox Church instructed Wikipedia (the Russian version) to exclude several works of Konstantin Savitsky, including the “Monk” from the gallery of the site, as anti-clerical."

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