Description of the picture:
The only begotten son of the Word of God – Vasnetsov Victor Mikhailovich. A sketch of the mural of Vladimir Cathedral in Kiev. One thousand eight hundred eighty five – 1886. Oil on canvas
This painting reflects Vasnetsov’s deep knowledge of the Bible, because the artist studied in a theological seminary. The sketch depicts Jesus Christ in the guise of a youth surrounded by Tetramorph. This is a creature with four shapes and wings, which is mentioned in the visions of the prophet Ezekiel. Tetramorph also appears in the Apocalypse of St. John the Evangelist, where it has the appearance of four creatures – a man, a bull, an eagle and a lion. They are called to protect the four edges of the throne of God and the heavenly limits.
In later times, Tetramorph began to be associated with evangelists (Luke the bull, Mark the lion, Matthew the angel, and John the eagle). On the canvas of Vasnetsov, the young Christ, bearing the word of God to people, is supported by four symbolic images of the evangelists against the background of light clouds and the distant radiance of the luminary.
The color scheme of the sketch is very delicate and airy, reflecting the sky blue. The white robes of Christ make his figure literally glowing, and an almost symmetrical composition captures the attention of the beholder on his face. The deviation from the canonical image of Jesus is surprising – he does not look in front of himself, like on icons, penetrating his eyes into the soul of the person standing in front of the image. His gaze is set aside. Tetramorph’s sacred animals are мейд in soft, pearl colors.
Interestingly, the symbolic images of evangelists in the form of animals were allowed only in the Old Believers."