As a child, I was very fond of listening and reading Russian folk tales and bylinas. Especially I liked the episodes where the main character wins the evil Serpent and releases the stolen princess. I very well represented all the details of the battle thanks to the beautiful illustrations of the book. Most of all I liked the picture of VM Vasnetsov “The Battle of Ivan Tsarevich with the Three-Headed Serpent.”
The talented artist reproduced the battle picture to the smallest detail. In the foreground, Ivan Tsarevich swings his sword at the insidious Serpent. Probably just that he had cut off one head to his foe: Ivan’s sword is in the blood, and the three-headed Snake has no one head. The serpent is embittered by failure, he opens his mouth in the hope of mastering the hero. However, Ivan Tsarevich managed to hide behind the shield in time.
Ivan Tsarevich looks a bit tired: apparently, the battle continues not the first day. However, he has nowhere to retreat
– behind the back of Ivan, clinging to the rock, after the battle, the princess watches. She is scared, and she sincerely wishes the prince of victory.
The sun illuminates only the section of the painting, where Ivan Tsarevich is depicted. This Vasnetsov wanted to show the hero’s pure intentions, his desire to free his native land from any enemies, not to offend women, children and the elderly, whom the Serpent can still eat or burn unless stopped on time.
Behind the black wings of the Serpent are only dark mountains and a blood-red sunset. A lot of troubles and grief caused this Serpent to the Russian land, many valiant warriors he ruined. Bones and skulls are scattered over the mountains, and gloomy vultures await the outcome of the battle. They are clearly on the side of the Serpent. However, in combat, strength does not always win.
Ivan has a strong heavy shield, a comfortable sword and reliable mail. During the battle, Ivan had to sink to one knee, but the second leg rests against the snake’s belly. According to Ivan’s rich clothes, expensive decorations on the shield
immediately show that he is a prince. The Tsarevich is the future tsar, the defender of his state. Ivan will fulfill his task with honor, although for this he will need to stand in battle for three days and three nights. With the help of courage, cunning and self-righteousness, Ivan Tsarevich, contrived, will carry the remaining heads to the monster, save the princess and save his land from the terrible and bloodthirsty Serpent.
VM Vasnetsov, using in his work “The Battle of Ivan Tsarevich with the Three-Headed Serpent” motifs of folk folklore, managed to depict the tipping point of the battle, on the one hand, demonstrating the intensity of the battle and the strength of both opponents, and on the other – claiming the victory of kindness, love and justice over cruelty and evil.