Having acquired a few forged works, Pavel Tretyakov made a rule to buy directly from the artist. Which is why he got furious when he saw two signatures on one of the paintings acquired from Shishkin. It said Shishkin and Savitsky. Savitsky suggested that Shishkin should depict bears in his «Morning in a Pine Wood» (Hall 25), but it is still not known whether he painted the bears himself or his contribution was limited to the advice. Anyway, he withdrew his signature and the work is attributed solely to Shishkin.
«Heroes (Bogatyri)» by Viktor Vasnetsov (Hall 26), though a trite motif as it may seem, was a two decades’ work of the artist. The ancient warriors represent three different Russian characters: power of the Russian land, power to defend the Russian land and the poetic nature of the Russian land.
Before Ivanov started to work on his «The Apparition of Christ to the people», he went to Europe to see what had been done on that topic before. And he saw that many European and Russian artists used biblical scenes to depict reality of today. Take for example Karl Btyullov and his Bathsheba (Hall 9). The subject for the painting was taken from the Old Testament and describes the unfortunate fate of the military commander Uriah who was sent to immediate death because King David coveted his wife Bathsheba, who he noticed naked taking a bath. Not the subject itself was of a great interest to the artist, but the ancient oriental culture.
The naked beautiful body of Batsheba looks marble white in contrast to the black servant woman next to her. The scene is as natural as erotic, and it explains King David’s lust, which spurred him to commit a crime. A very trivial story, which is characteristic of not only ancient oriental times but of present day too. There seem to be human vices and weaknesses, which will never be abolished.
But the artist does not moralize in his work of art. The painting does not rise fear in our souls, or anger in our hearts. And it does not drop seeds of lust in the minds of onlookers. The scene is mysteriously magnetic and the beauty of Bathsheba’s body hypnotizes and embarrasses at the same time, as if we became witnesses to an intimate ritual.