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Emil Jean-Horace Vernet was born in Paris in 1789. His father and grandfather were well-known masters of painting in France, the talent for which was also inherited by Horace. Following the example of his father, Vernet becomes a diplomat and all his life enters into the circle of high-ranking and influential people, taking advantage of the favors of all the regimes and rulers of France, who also highly appreciated his work.
Verne's favorite theme was battle scenes, which he wrote exclusively from eyewitnesses, never having been on the battlefield. As a diplomat, the smallest details of equipment, the nuances of the situation and circumstances of certain events were always important to him, and as a realist in painting, the accuracy and richness of colors, the sharpness of lines and the naturalism of forms and materials. In addition, the artist’s portraits were very popular, which he did for prominent political figures and top officials of some countries. So, he painted portraits of Napoleon, Nicholas I, General Morillo, Count Tollier, Duke of Chartres.
Religious themes are not typical for Vernet, but the painting Angel of Death, which he created in 1851, to this day evokes a lot of strong and bright feelings in the audience and emphasizes the quivering and subtle attitude of the master to questions of faith and spiritual salvation.
According to the Bible, angels are creatures created by God for spiritual ministry, they are endowed with enormous knowledge about the world and human psychology, have special abilities to penetrate through space and time, and perform certain functions in the service of the Lord or fallen angels - with Satan. As the Book of Genesis, the Psalms, the Gospel suggests, angels appear to people in a human, usually masculine manner, but the Bible warns to make unambiguous judgments about their nature, since all these testimonies are individual and most often are human speculations.
In the painting, the Angel of Death, the central place is given to a Christian girl in white robes, who just died, apparently from a serious illness, because a young man killed by the bitterness of his hands folded his arms in a prayer prayer near her bed. Behind the back of the deceased is the figure of an angel in mourning dark robes, who carefully grabbed her by the arms. The girl’s face is exhausted by an ailment, but at the last moment gets rid of physical suffering and takes a peaceful and calm expression, and a finger raised to the sky seemed to open a gap in the heavens, from where the warm radiance of the Kingdom of Heaven spills on her.
On the lectern near the bed, the Psalter is opened, the lamp still burns near the icon of the Mother of God, a pussy-willow branch as if only yesterday had been stuck in the icon case with the thin light hand of a roommate. And if you take a look at the picture from afar, it seems that the figure of an angel dissolves against the wall, and the large, carefully drawn by the artist beautiful wings belong to the girl in white. Maybe she will become an angel? Or has it already become? Or was he and is returning home? Who knows…
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