Narva Gates

Artist: Pavel Filonov
Date: 1929
Media: Oil on paper relined on Whatman paper
Dimensions: 88 x 62 cm
Ownership: Russian Museum, St Petersburg
Narva Gates


Pavel Filonov regarded himself as a “non-Party Bolshevik” and served on the Military Revolutionary Tribunal in Bessarabia during the Russian Civil War. He was one of the first to understand the tragedy of the revolution, foreseeing the full horror of the dictatorship of Joseph Stalin, when it was only just beginning in the 1920s.

This painting is permeated with a deathly chill. Filonov conveys the sensation of fear and loneliness in the figures of the people standing at the Narva Triumphal Gates. The images of beasts of prey and the terrifying horseman driving the quadriga symbolise the victory of evil and the coming of political repressions.

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