1806, St. Petersburg - 1858, St. Petersburg

Water and Stones near Palazzuola

Early 1850s

This work is a modello for Alexander Ivanov’s Christ’s Appearance to the People. Although a study from life, it is also a complete work of art in its own right. The finished composition, colour and textural wealth and tangible play of light lend an almost cosmic ring to this natural motif. Among the numerous landscape studies painted by Ivanov, Water and Stones near Palazzuola is a genuine masterpiece.
Retaining the freshness of an alla prima sketch, the composition is well planned and generalised. The sweeping brushstrokes convey the remarkable richness of colours, hues, semi-tones and reflections found only in nature. The bottomless sky is reflected in the rapidly flowing water, while the stone symbolizes the endlessness of time. The light is both fleeting and philosophically eternal. The intimate and poetic motif of this small study acquires the epic monumentality of a philosophical work of art. The contrasts between the transient and the permanent, the changing and the stable, the everyday and the ideal, constitute the Romantic heart of this work.

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