“Maria N. Ermolova,” writes Stanislavsky, “is a whole epoch for the Russian theater, and for our generation it is a symbol of femininity, beauty, strength, pathos, sincere simplicity and modesty.” Her data were exceptional. sensitivity, inspired temperament, great nervousness, inexhaustible inner depths.
The external data of Maria Nikolaevna were no less significant. She had an excellent face with inspired eyes, the constitution of Venus, a deep, pectoral, warm voice, plasticity. boundless charm and scenicism. How often did the great artist make the spectators of the play, all of them all, keep a handkerchief out of their eyes and wipe their shed tears. “
Ermolova, as everyone says, who had the good fortune to see her not only on stage, “was up to morbidity, embarrassing, shy and modest.” Each performance with the participation of Ermolova was an event in the theatrical life of Moscow. In the auditorium reverential silence reigned,
when this tall, harmonious, “eternally feminine” woman appeared on the stage, retaining a stately posture even in the declining years. “Ermolova moved around the stage easily and swiftly, and it was always like that – both in her youth and her old age,” noted People’s Artist of the USSR AA Yablochkina, who played along with Ermolova many times. One could multiply enthusiastic reviews of the actors who studied stage art at Yermolova in the Maly Theater, where she performed for almost half a century, the reviews of the audience who saw her in the roles of Laurencia in Lope de Vega’s play “The Sheep Source”
For the great Russian scholars, writers, composers, artists, Ermolov was a symbol of the greatness and glory of the Russian theater. Among these admirers was Serov, who created a heroic portrait of MN Ermolova in the year when there was a “dress rehearsal for the October Revolution”.
The artist knew Ermolov well. He knew that the scenic stage was for Ermolova a public platform, from where she uttered the words, “scorching with fire,
imbued with boundless love for freedom and hatred of oppression” (Vladimir I. Nemirovich-Danchenko). Serov created an unforgettable image of a man free in spirit, a man-creator. Pose Ermolova solemn and majestic. Her proud beauty and inspiration are already marked by her already elderly face (Yermolova was then fifty-two years old). A gesture of closed hands is expressive, which speaks of the restrained inner strength of the actress, who was able to convey “the entire complexity of the female soul, to tears of touching, to terrifying horror, ridiculous comical” (Stanislavsky).
Closed black dress with a single ornament – a pearl thread – surprisingly in harmony with the noble appearance of Ermolova, with a modest home atmosphere. Apparently, the artist was not at all interested in everyday details in this portrait, although in other cases he willingly attracted them to reveal the character of the person depicted (for example, in the portrait of GL Hirschman, where this secular beauty is surrounded by expensive things and trinkets). Ermolova, as it were, is removed from all worldly things, and this is also characteristic of her: “In the theater, and in the family, Maria Nikolaevna was alone.” She left all the lives of those she portrayed, and she had very little personal life “(A. A. Yabloch-kina).
Ermolova is written in her Moscow apartment (near the Nikitsky Gate), where she returned from the theater, accompanied by exclamations of thanks and noisy applause of a huge crowd of spectators, always waiting for the theatrical entrance of Yermolova’s exit. The picture creates the feeling that Ermolov is standing on stage, that you are about to hear her “low chest voice, imbued with the thrill of growing passion,” “hear the cry of suffering an insulted soul or a mighty call to freedom.” Portrait Ermolova – a truly monumental work, like a monument that perpetuated the unforgettable image of the People’s Artist.