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Showing posts from February, 2014

Vasilyev’s "Reaper"

In Konstantin Alexeyevich Vasilyev’s painting, simply titled “Reaper” ("Жница"), we find a very unique blend of imagery. “Death and the Maiden” is a long established theme, particularly favored by Scandinavian artists. The maiden is, naturally, a young woman; she is representative of life, whereas death is either a skeleton, Grim Reaper, or just a very old man. Vasilyev has blended both of them into one person in this painting. The maiden has become death as well as life—a profound statement.
When one thinks of death, the image of a dark, cloaked, icy figure is likely to come to mind. Here we find just the opposite. Vasilyev’s Reaper is a young, blond woman with piercing eyes resting against a tree, sickle in hand. While she appears nonthreatening, it is her eyes which give the viewer a hint of her true identity. Her expression lies somewhere between fierce and indifferent; do not let her beauty fool you, to know her is to die.
While her stance at first seems relaxed, a close…