Painting by VM Vasnetsov “Tsar Ivan Vasilyevich Grozny”

Once, when we were in fifth grade, I saw a portrait of Ivan the Terrible standing on the stand in the study of literature. I felt somehow uneasy, but to be honest – even scary. By that time I knew Vasnetsovskaya “Alyonushka”, “Carpet-plane”, “Three princesses of the underworld” and, of course, “Bogatyrs”. At the stand for high school students there were reproductions of paintings unknown to me. And among them – “Tsar Ivan Vasilyevich the Terrible”. Three years have passed since then, but I still feel scary about this picture.

Now I understand that from the meeting with the king in my life it was even more terrible. Here it is in front of us in full growth, the full height of the picture. The face of the king is gloomy, concentrated. He looks haughtily at his subjects. Severe gray eyes look for another victim. And fingers of the left hand sort the rosary. The rod in his hand not only emphasizes the vertical, but also strengthens, lengthens it. And the king seems to grow out... of the earth and go into the sky, or, on the contrary, descends from there. He is the king, the governor of God on earth. And if so – he can do everything: execute and pardon by order from above and his own discretion. In his hands – the sole authority over all. This he is terrible.

The king fully justifies the name given to him – Grozny. How terrible his sight! He drills, pervades you, leaving no hope for royal favor. Praying for mercy is useless, even if you are not guilty of anything.

Closed space is broken by a small semicircular window through which the snow-covered pointed roofs of houses are visible. But they are like under the feet of the tsar, and he is above them, over Moscow and over all Russia of the 16th century. In his hands, power and oprichniks. That is why the background of the picture is dark red, gloomy, like the era in which the terrible king lived and ruled. The picture looks like blood smelling – even today.


Painting by VM Vasnetsov “Tsar Ivan Vasilyevich Grozny”