The demon and the angel with the soul of Tamara - Mikhail Alexandrovich Vrubel. Watercolor on paper.
From a young age, Mikhail Aleksandrovich Vrubel was read by the works of M. Lermontov, and when in 1891 he was invited to take part in creating illustrations for the anniversary edition of the poet's works, he enthusiastically takes up work. And, of course, he begins with the poem “Demon”, because for several years he has been trying to write his image.
Before us is one of the most famous illustrations - a dispute over Tamara’s soul.
An angel stands in a stream of ghostly, greenish-gray light, calmly and majestically, spreading wings behind their back dissolve in this unearthly radiance. Looking for protection, a girl clung trustingly to his chest. On a beautiful, sad face, traces of suffering and doubt are visible, thin fragile hands in desperate hope hold fast to the clothes of the messenger.
Bowing her head towards her, an angel pushes her to her with a gentle, calming, but at the same time confident gesture. His detached and beautiful face is almost serene, and only a slight sadness and sympathy enliven him. The embodiment of the highest, divine justice.
At his feet sits a suffering, defeated demon. In a gesture of despair, he clasped his head in strong hands. Unruly thick hair falls to a gloomy face. However, humility is not felt in his pose. Yes, he lost, but did not accept. A rebellious, free and rebellious spirit.
They are similar to each other, these divine essences, as two sides of one whole: one and the same unearthly, exalted face, straight thin nose, thick pile of hair. But if one is filled with greatness, light and love, then the other feels great power, inner tension and indomitability. Eternal choice: power over the world and loneliness or the fulfillment of divine will and mercy?
The painter paints an angel with the soul of Tamara with translucent, light, invisible strokes melting in the air, choosing cold shades of pale bluish-green and smoky-gray colors. But for the image of a demon, he chooses a muted gray-black gamut, however, the black paint here does not give a feeling of hopelessness and inevitability.
Vrubel's illustrations are rightfully considered the best, conveying the whole depth of feelings and design of Lermontov’s works.