The hero, the defender of the Russian land, is one of Vasnetsov’s favorite characters, to whom the artist devoted many of his paintings. Along with the famous and classic pictures of “Bogatyri” and “Knight at the Crossroads”, the work “Bogatyrsky Skok” reflects Vasnetsov’s warm attitude to folk epics and legends, to Russian culture in general.
The time of the painting was 1914. The beginning of the First World War. Russia again has to contend with a cruel enemy and no one yet knows what this fight will turn out. One thing is clear: the people must rise and gather together all the forces in order to once again show the power of the Russian state and remind the enemy of the former military glory of a great country.
To strengthen the patriotic spirit of the people, to call him to unity in the fight against the enemy is the main goal pursued by the artist, creating this picture. The central place is occupied by the figure of the rider on horseback on a formidable black horse. The hero is ready to fight for the Fatherland: he has a sword on his belt, his hand holds the shield firmly, a well-aimed spear is waiting for his hour at the saddle. Under the rays of the rising sun, shining, armor shines, weapons are brought to full combat readiness.
The rider, frowning, peers into the distance-did not the enemy appear? And none of them escapes from his piercing gaze. To become a courageous and decisive warrior is his battle horse. A strong animal is depicted at the time of the jump: the hooves of the horse only come off the ground, the muscles are as tense as possible, the head is slightly tilted. Trusting an ally, the hero does not even hold a bridle and does not look where his horse is rushing.
The atmosphere of tension is maintained by dark tones, in which the background of the picture is sustained. Pictured in the distance is a hill, a coniferous forest – all shrouded in darkness. But the canvas is depicted in the pre-dawn hour on the canvas, and, hence, the sun will soon rise, and the gloom will wither, as the enemy of the light power of the Russian warrior will be defeated.