Description of the painting by Valentin Serov "Iphigenia in Tauris"

Description of the painting by Valentin Serov

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The main plot of the picture was the legend of the daughter of the Greek king Agamemnon - Iphigenia, sacrificed to the war goddess Athena. Homer’s poem “The Iliad” tells us that, wishing to become victors in the ten-year Trojan War, the Greeks more than once sacrificed their daughters to appease the whims of the Gods.

Being one of the initiators of the campaign against Troy, Agamemnon could not refuse the fate that befell her daughter, and she was erected on the altar of Athena Pallas. Admiring the beauty of the girl, the goddess did not accept this gift. Replacing the girl with a doe, she transferred her to Tauris, where she became one of the priestesses of the temple of Athena.

In the picture of Serov, Iphigenia is depicted after her arrival on the shores of Tauris. The girl sits on a stone near the seashore and looks thoughtfully into the endless distance. Her face is not visible, because the viewer is not given to understand whether she is sad about her lost loved ones, or whether she is gnawed by a feeling of loneliness. The girl’s body is dressed in white clothes, which is consistent with her position as an innocent priestess at the temple. According to the custom of that time, Iphigenia's hair was collected on the back of the head.

The nature surrounding the girl is virginally beautiful, the waters of the Black Sea are foaming at her feet, a shining blue sky stretches over her head, impregnable cliffs rise behind her. The sea and the sky merge into a single whole, with the naked eye it is hardly possible to distinguish the edge of the water from the clouds and the horizon.

Not a single living soul is on the shore and Iphigenia can not be afraid for her involuntary peace. It is unknown whether this girl is happy or not, her fate is now and forever connected with these deserted places, so unlike her beloved Motherland.

The canvas was created in 1893, it was repeatedly restored, it is stored in the State Museum of Fine Arts of the Republic of Tatarstan. It is a striking example of the work of the Wanderers.

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