In 1903, Nesterov visited the Solovetsky Monastery on the White Sea in search of characters for his painting “Holy Russia”. The brothers of the monastery – the peasants of the northern provinces and Siberia – struck him with intelligence, strength, and efficiency. “We pray to God with an ax and a saw in the forest,” they said about themselves. All nature was a holy temple for them. Animals and birds here were not afraid of man, since he did not touch them unnecessarily. Once a year the monastery cathedral made a decision to catch a certain number of bears, deer, hares, foxes for the needs of the monastery. Anything superfluous that fell into the traps and snares in excess of the council decree was released into the wild.
Under the impression of what he saw in Solovki, one of the best Nesterov paintings, Silence, was painted. Bay at the foot of the Rapier Mountain. The mysterious light of the white night. A dark forested mountain is reflected in the still waters. Like an echo, the figures of monks in boats, a gray-bearded old man and a young man repeat each other. The state of nature is sensitively captured by the artist, but he does not passively follow nature. Nesterov’s mastery of composition is shown here in its laconicism, choice of close-ups, and the avarice of generalizing lines. An almost literal repetition of the silhouettes of monks (it is interesting to compare with the work “Under Blagovest”) was used by Nesterov as a rhythm in music.
Year of painting: 1903.
Dimensions of the painting: 71 x 116 cm.
Writing technique: oil.
Genre: genre painting.
Gallery: State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.