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Bilibin was an ordinary artist - he grew up in St. Petersburg, he listened to fairy tales in early childhood and vaguely remembered.
But once he got to the exhibition, where he saw Vasnetsov’s picture “The Heroes”, and his life changed dramatically. He was so impressed by the work of his colleague and her theme that he left social life, and with it city balls, gossip and duel, went to a remote village in the Tver province, where he spent some time listening to the elderly, wandering through the forests, and penetrating more and more the spirit of Russian folk tales.
At the same time, the idea of illustrations began to mature in his head, which would make collections of folk tales more entertaining and colorful. Returning to Petersburg, he did not leave this project, and soon a collection of fairy tales by Afanasyev with his illustrations was published.
“Feather of Finist Yasna-Sokol” is an old tale and they tell it everywhere a little differently. But, in general, the main milestones of the plot remain unchanged - a merchant with three daughters, the youngest, asking for an unprecedented gift, a tiny feather that lays on the floor of the room and calls for the handsome prince, Finist Yasn-Sokol, who is ready to talk all night.
And after - the envy of the elder sisters, a window poked with knives and shards of glass, a wounded falcon and three iron breads, three iron staffs, three pairs of iron shoes and many roads to go.
The illustration, however, shows the moment when Finist, drunk with a sleepy potion, is sleeping, not responding to attempts to wake him, and the merchant's youngest daughter is standing over him, spread out on rich pillows. She is dressed simply, her head tied with a scarf. She squeezes the hand of her prince and her face reflects expectation, confusion, hope and torment.
A small fairytale moment is caught very accurately, and folk patterns, intricate flowers, delicate ornaments curl around it. All this plunges into the atmosphere of a fairy tale, but at the same time the characters show emotions, they are alive. Their faces are not like frozen masks, as is often the case in fairy tale illustrations.
In Surikov Boyarynya Morozova