Marsh in a Forest. Autumn
Fedor Alexandrovich Vasiliev was a master of lyrical landscape that died in the young age. Though he lived a short life, he left a number of excellent landscape paintings that combined accuracy with fine and profound lyricism of Russian nature. “Young, strong, with only 5 years of artistic experience, F. Vasiliev reached unbelievable heights” – wrote N. Ge. Vasiliev started to paint during the years of revival of realistic national landscape, and his works were soon compared to the paintings by renowned contemporary masters – I. Shishkin, I. Repin, and others. Vasiliev believed in the unlimited power of art, its ability to influence and transform people. He wrote once: “If you paint a picture consisting of just the mountains and the blue air…and if you express it just like it is in reality…I believe, that any person with an evil plan would put it aside in view of this delightful picture full of endless triumph and purity of Nature”. His landscapes are full of admiration of the beauty around and at the same time of a sinking feeling of bidding farewell.
In the beginning of 1872 Vasiliev began his work on the painting Marsh in the Forest. Autumn. Short before his death he wrote to I. Kramskoy: “Oh, a marsh, a marsh! My heart shrinks with a grave presentiment! Will I ever be able to breathe this free air, to feel this invigorating power of morning awakening in the steaming waters?” This painting was not created from nature – the artist created it on the basis of several studies. Despite it has never been finished, it shows artistic ambition and a desire to express and preserve clear colours. This excellent painting reveals for the viewers the heavenly land of marshes and birch trees that was so precious for the painter. Contemporaries viewed F. Vasiliev as a reformer who would up-end Russian landscape painting if not for his early death. His last work shows that he stood on the edge of new discoveries and revelations in painting. I. Kramskoy wrote to the artist about his impressions: “This is a real painting – there is nothing like it, it does not repeat anything, it has no slightest similarities to the works of any artist; this is something absolutely unique, isolated from any influences, staying apart from all modern trends in art. One thing I can say for sure: it is not perfect yet, but it’s ingenious”.