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Vrubel, like no one, knew how to depict a fairy tale on his canvases. His imagination had no boundaries, his work did not tolerate platitudes. He drank soundly, walked a lot, gambled. At the end of his life, the artist went completely crazy. The way of life ruined the author, but made his masterpieces even more strange and incomprehensible.
In 1899, the world saw the picture of Vrubel, by then already a renowned symbolist artist, "Sadko on the shores of Lake Ilmen." Not only the form of the work itself is unusual, but also the materials used to create it. The painting was made on oval-shaped cardboard using paints with silver and gold effect. The picture is more like a dish or a plate. It was made to order, for the famous rich man S. Mamontov. He acquired many of the author’s finished works.
The plot is steeped in mystery and magic. The central forming part of the composition is a blue lake with raging waves. Water resembles the face of an old man or a sea monster. The shore of the reservoir is covered with large shells, fish, closing the lake in a circle. At the very edge, in the foreground is a naked beauty. This is the beautiful queen of the lake. Her body has a light bluish tint, and her figure is impeccable. The girl is not devoid of jewelry, a magnificent kokoshnik shines on her head. The upper part of the work contains a schematic depiction of Sadko himself.
A look at the picture leaves a double impression and a strange aftertaste. On the one hand, the artist’s vision is extremely curious, but on the other hand, the work is frankly strange.