Having received money for work on the scenery for the Mamontov Opera and gained relative prosperity, in 1886 Isaak Levitan made a trip to the Crimea. And although his stay there was rather short, sketches and paintings written by Levitan during this trip, became a new, very expressive and penetrating word in the artistic development of this fertile land.
On the Crimean works of Levitan we hardly see the famous landscapes, and the southern nature appears not so much from the front, but rather from the everyday side, at the same time full of unique poetry.
The sea in calm and clear weather (“The Coast of the Crimea.”), Clay Tatar dwellings (“Sakly in Alupka”), the smooth outlines of the Crimean mountains with characteristic soft transitions from flat terraces to granite ledges of weathered rocks (a series of ledges) – these are the motives, especially attracted the attention of the artist. He carefully traces the details of the relief of stony
slopes with a brush, conveys a harmonious combination of the gentle blue of the sky and the sea and the bleached gray and ocher tones of the mountains, characteristic of the Crimean nature.
MV Nesterov wrote that before the appearance of the Crimean landscapes of the painter “none of the Russian artists so did not feel, did not take the southern nature with its opal sea, pensive cypresses, flowering almonds and all the elegance of ancient Tauris.” Levitan, as it were, first discovered the beauties of the South Coast Crimea “.
Crimean works shown by Levitan at the periodic exhibition of the Moscow Society of Arts in 1887, according to Nesterov’s recollections, “had an extremely exceptional success” among artists and connoisseurs of art and were “sold out in the very first days.”
The most valuable thing that Levitan learned in the south is the pure colors. The time spent in the Crimea seemed to him on a continuous morning, when the air, settled over the night like water, in the giant reservoirs of the mountain valleys, is so clean that the dew dripping
from the leaves can be seen from a distance, and for dozens of miles the foam of the waves reaching the stony shores.
Large expanses of air lay over the southern land, giving paints a sharpness and convexity.
In the south, Levitan felt with full clarity that only the sun dominates the colors. The greatest picturesque power lies in the sunlight, and all the grayness of Russian nature is good only because it is the same sunlight, but muffled, passed through layers of moist air and a thin veil of clouds.
The sun and black light are incompatible. Black is not a paint, it is a corpse of paint. Levitan was aware of this and after his trip to Crimea decided to drive out dark tones from his canvases. True, this was not always possible.
Thus began the struggle for light that lasted for many years.
Konstantin Paustovsky. Isaac Levitan
Levitan recovered, and almost in the same spring he went to the Crimea; was fascinated by the beauty of the southern nature of the sea, flowering almonds. The elegant motifs of the ancient Tauris with its opal sea, meditative cypresses, with a soft outline of the mountains matched the gentle, melancholy nature of the artist. Returning to Moscow, Levitan put his Crimean sketches on the Periodical Exhibition, at that time the most popular after the Mobile. Etudes were sold out in the first days, and I must say that none of the Russian artists so did not feel it, did not take our southern nature with its sea by thoughtful cypresses, flowering almonds and all elegance of ancient Tauris. Levitan, as it were, was the first to discover the beauties of the southern coast of the Crimea. At that time he had an absolutely exceptional success, his talent became undeniable.