Six-Winged Seraph

Artist: Mikhail Vrubel
Date: 1904
Media: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 131 x 155 cm
Ownership: State Russian Museum, St Petersburg
Provenance:
Nadezhda Zabela-Vrubel collection, St Petersburg; Yevgeny Tereschenko collection, Petrograd (until 1918)
Style: Symbolism
Mikhail Vrubel, Six-Winged Seraph, 1904

 

Mikhail Vrubel painted this work in 1904, when he was a patient at the Vladimir Serbsky Psychiatric Clinic in Moscow. The bright tones conjure up associations with the Byzantine mosaics in Venice and Ravenna seen by the artist in his youth.

Six-Winged Seraph is linked to the theme of the prophetic mission of the artist – a subject which fascinated Symbolists in various countries. From the 1890s onwards, Mikhail Vrubel created a series of compositions on this theme.

This particular work was inspired by Alexander Pushkin’s poem The Prophet (1826), which was itself based on Isaiah 6:2-10. The painting can be interpreted as the artist’s inner vision of a fiery angel, reminding him of his sublime mission to awaken the souls of people and “burn Man’s heart with this My Word.”

Exhibitions: World of Art, St Petersburg, 1906, No. 70 (Angel); Salon d’Automne, Paris, 1906, No. 687 (Angel of Death); Russische Kunst-Ausstellung, Berlin, 1906, No. 533 (Angel of Death); VIII Exhibition of New Society of Artists, St Petersburg, 1912–13, No. 6 (Azrael)

Literature: A. Rostislavov, “Vystavka kartin ‘Mir iskusstva’”, Slovo, 4 March 1906 (Angel); Jaremich, Vrubel’, p. 168 (Cherub), p. 186 (Angel with a Dagger); A. Levinson, “Tvorchestvo Vrubelya (Vystavka ‘Novogo obschestva khudozhnikov’)”, Za 7 dnei, 1913, No. 4 (98), p. 94; N. Nikolayeva, M. A. Vrubel’, Moscow, 1913, p. 23 (Angel), p. 46; Essem, “Vos’maya vystavka ‘Novogo obschestva’”, Apollon, 1913, No. 1, p. 52; Ivanov, Vrubel’, p. 51 (Angel), p. 52, IX (Angel with a Sword and Censer), reproduction between pp. 48-49; Eres, Vrubel’, Moscow, 1919, p. 60; S. Makovsky, Siluety russkikh khudozhnikov, Prague, 1922, p. 120 (Angel with a Sword and Censer); Ivan Yevdokimov, Vrubel’, Moscow, 1925, p. 61 (Cherub with a Burning Incensory and Sword)

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