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In the year that Vrubel moved to Moscow, he met the then-famous writer Konchalovsky, who worked on the publication of Lermontov’s works. He ordered several illustrations for the poet’s works from the artist, including The Demon.
All illustrations for the poem (although, judging by the richness of the palette, they were rather full-fledged paintings) were performed in black watercolor and differed in semantic completeness.
Vrubel worked especially carefully on The Head of the Demon, because the painting had an important role to play - to be the title. Contemporaries were attracted by the artist’s unusual interpretation of the main character of the poem, which, as can be seen from the image, was by no means grieving and suffering.
On the contrary, the Demon is full of thought energy, he is ready to question again and again, seeks to find a solution to eternal questions. The face, as it were, burns from the inside with a flame - this is visible in the eyes and lips of the Demon. The latter especially attract the attention of the viewer.
Another feature of the image of the protagonist is Vrubel’s combination of female and male features, which should only emphasize the universality, archetypal character. Also note that the background on which the face of the Demon is placed is somewhat reminiscent of the canvases of another symbolist artist - Klimt.
It is hardly worth wondering that the hero of Lermontov’s poem was so interested in the artist, who subconsciously transferred to himself some of the features of the Demon - his search for solutions to the eternal mysteries of being that are metaphysical in nature. Unfortunately, modern critics did not understand Vrubel's illustrations.
The artist was accused of rudeness and ugliness of the lines, of the fact that Lermontov’s plan remained completely incomprehensible to him. Now it has become a commonplace to recognize paintings depicting the Demon (this canvas also applies to them), to the peak of Vrubel’s work.