“The Last Day of Pompeii” – mysteries, secrets, facts masterwork K. Bryullov
In the first century of our era there was a series of eruptions of the volcano Vesuvius, which were accompanied by an earthquake. They destroyed several flowering cities, which were located near the foot of the mountain. The city of Pompeii was gone in just two days – in August of the year 79, it was completely covered with volcanic ash. He was buried under a seven-meter thick ash. It seemed that the city disappeared from the face of the earth. However, in 1748, archaeologists were able to unearth it, opening the veil of a terrible tragedy. The painting of the Russian artist Karl Bryullov was dedicated to the last day of the ancient city.
“Last Day of Pompeii” – the most famous painting of Karl Brullov. The masterpiece was created long six years – from the plan and the first sketch to the full canvas. Not a single Russian artist had such success in Europe as the young 34-year-old Bryullov, to whom the symbolic nickname “The Great Karl” very quickly became established, which corresponded to the scale of his six-year-long suffering child – the size of the canvas reached 30 square meters (!). It is noteworthy that the canvas itself was written in just 11 months, the rest of the time was spent on preparatory work.
Italian Morning, 1823; Kunsthalle, Kiel, Germany
In the success of a promising and talented artist, Western colleagues in the craft believed with difficulty. Arrogant Italians, praising Italian painting over the whole of the world, considered a young and promising Russian painter incapable of anything more, something large and large-scale. And this is despite the fact that Bryullov’s paintings to a certain extent were already known long before Pompeii. So, for example, the famous canvas “Italian morning”, written by Briullov after his arrival in Italy in 1823. The picture brought Bryullov fame, having received good reviews from the Italian public, then from members of the Society for the Encouragement of Artists. OPH presented the painting “Italian Morning” to Alexandra Feodorovna, the wife of Nicholas I. The Emperor wanted to get a steam room for the “Morning” picture, which was the beginning of Bryullov’s writing of the painting “Italian Midday” (1827).
A girl picking grapes around Naples. 1827; State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg
And the picture “A Girl Who Gathers Grapes in the Neighborhood of Naples” (1827), glorifying the life-giving and cheerful character of Italian girls from the people. And the loudly renowned copy of Raphael’s fresco, the Athenian School (1824–1828), now adorns the hall of copies in the building of the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. Bryullov was independent and famous in Italy and in Europe, he has a lot of orders – almost everyone who travels to Rome tries to bring a portrait of Bryullov’s work from there …
And yet they didn’t particularly believe in the artist, and sometimes they mocked him altogether. Especially the already aged gentleman Kamuchchini, who was considered at that time the first Italian painter, tried his best. Considering the sketches of Bryullov’s future masterpiece, he concludes that “the theme requires a huge canvas, but on the huge canvas the good that is in the sketches will disappear; Karl thinks in small canvases … Little Russian paints small pictures … A colossal piece of work on someone’s shoulder is bigger! ”Bryullov did not take offense, just smiled – it would be absurd to be angry and angry with the old man. In addition, the words of the Italian master even more spurred the young and ambitious Russian genius in the desire to once and for all conquer Europe, and especially the self-satisfied Italians.
With his characteristic fanaticism, he continues to develop the plot of his main picture, which, he believes, will undoubtedly glorify his name.
There are at least two versions of how the idea of writing “Pompeii” was born. The unofficial version – Bryullov, amazed by the performance in Rome of the enchanting opera Giovanni Pacini “The Last Day of Pompeii”, when he came home, immediately sketched a sketch of the future picture.
According to another version, the idea of restoring the plot of “death” came through excavations by archaeologists who discovered the city buried and littered with volcanic ash, stone fragments and lava in 79 year. Almost 18 centuries the city lay under the ashes of Vesuvius. And when it was excavated, before the eyes of the amazed Italians appeared houses, statues, fountains, the streets of Pompeii …
Karl Bryullov’s elder brother, Alexander, who had studied the ruins of the ancient city since 1824, also took part in the excavations. For his restoration project “Pompeii Terme”, he received the title of architect of His Majesty, a corresponding member of the French Institute, a member of the Royal Institute of Architects in England and the title of a member of the academies of arts in Milan and St. Petersburg …