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  1. In the history of mankind, there were only two periods when people could seriously consider that they were depicting “the whole world”: five thousand years ago under the Sumerians (because there really was nothing else around), and of course in the nineteenth century (because they really wanted to).

    An additional irony is that in this case it was not even the British, who by that time already owned four of the entire land, but, ahem, Alexander Andreevich Ivanov.

    So yes, this is ” The Appearance of Christ to the People.”

    The argument in defense of the universality of the plot is that, according to Ivanov's idea, the canvas contains all of humanity in a synopsis: those who are “for”, those who are” against”, and those who doubt. What is possible covers all possible states of a person in the Christian paradigm, but in the artistic one it demonstrates some difficulties.

    It is worth talking a little about this artistic universality.

    Neoclassicism, as a trend, is rather highly specialized: it adapts any plot to the appearance of an ancient sculpture group. In addition, it is painted by white Europeans, whose ideas about the appearance of people in the Middle East, as a rule, have only one source — another painting. In this case, it is French orientalism, which emerged as one of the unintended results of Napoleon's Egyptian campaign.

    As a consequence, neoclassicism is extremely ill-suited to portray anything universal. It is not only purposefully Eurocentric, but also inconsistently Eurocentric: the desire to Europeanize key moments in the history of the ancient world led artists to portray ancient heroes as white and sometimes even fair-haired (whereas modern Greeks were depicted as dark and dark-haired).

    Similarly, Ivanov cannot simply portray Christ in the Middle East, and justify his universality by the universality of human qualities — for the simple reason that the emperor would never buy a picture of the savior of the world standing surrounded only by Jews. Therefore, the picture goes a little beyond the moral landscape into the area of almost ethnic diversity, where instead of real people, its population turns out to be artistic conventions: Christ copied from a literal ancient statue (see fig. sketches), a hodgepodge of oriental types, a random pink Irishman standing with his back turned, and the great Russian writer Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol, in a chiton near the mustachioed centurion.

    (tellingly, the Northern Gothic, for example, coped with this quite calmly, functioning in such an obviously metaphorical space that in Memling all the peoples of the earth fit into the figures of the three wise men, and this seems to be enough)

    It is all the more characteristic that for 1857, neoclassicism “Y. H. N.” was already a genre on the way out. Millet writes The Corn Pickers, Raskin publishes The Political Economy of Art, and the Manchester World's Fair also features art photography. The future doesn't just belong to another kind of painting in some abstract ” all of us will be swept away someday” I mean, the championship has already changed. It was replaced twenty years before Ivanov began his magnum opus by Turner and Constable.

    So in artistic terms, Ivanov not only did not realize any universality — but rather on the contrary, it is the realization of regionality, primarily stylistic. And partly provincial: admiration for the timing and dimensions, like the largest pumpkin in the village.

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