Monday, January 2, 2017

Viktor Vasnetsov: Ivan Tsarevich and the Firebird on a Magic Carpet

Photo: Ivan Tsarevich and the Firebird on a Magic Carpet (1880), oil on canvas painting by Viktor Vasnetsov (1848-1926), 165 × 297 cm, State Art Museum of Nizhny Novgorod, Russia

The painting shows the popular Russian folklore hero Ivan Tsarevich along with the firebird travelling on a flying magic carpet along with the Firebird. The painting was created by the Russian revivalist movement artist Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov (1848-1926).

Ivan Tsarevich, one of the most popular heroes of Russian folklore, is often portrayed as the youngest of the three sons of a king or a peasant in different stories. As he has to be a superhero in each story, having no straightjacket character or origins, his personal history may vary in each story. But he is always shown fighting treacherous villains and finally winning the hands of his beloved Tsarina.

The name itself has two defining components; Ivan the commonest of the Russian names, and Tsarevich which means ‘the Tsar's son’. And he is sometimes attributed with magic powers. The antagonists also may be deathless characters having devilish powers. His friends may also have magical powers. His animal helpers can be a bird, a lion or a magical horse.

In one of the most popular folktales, ‘Prince Ivan, the Firebird and The Gray Wolf’, he was helped by a magical wolf as he captured the Firebird, after which he won the hand of the Tsarina.

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