Description of the sculpture by Sergei Konenkov "Paganini" (1908)

Description of the sculpture by Sergei Konenkov

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The keynote for Konenkov was the leitmotif of music, he created numerous portraits of famous composers, famous singers, talented performers, he repeatedly turned to the image of the great Italian. Once, at a book fair, he discovered an ancient lithograph with an imprint of a portrait of Niccolo Paganini, in whose music he felt a flame, burning out anger, helping to overcome life's difficulties, he experienced a frantic creative upsurge. The rebellious spirit of the composer reflected the revolutionary time in our country.

The old print helped crystallize the image of the Italian sculptor. Konenkov imagined the bow of Paganini, extracting fiery temperamental sounds that affect the heart and soul. The sculptor manages to clothe in the bodily image the impetuosity of the bow movement and bursts of enlightenment of the violin genius. He believes that clay is too heavy for such an image.

The artist depicts the musician’s amazing, sad, impulsive and inspired face with an elongated nose with a hump and piercing eyes under thick overhanging eyebrows, framed by long hair. For the first time in his work, the artist pays attention to the hands of the model, out of his tools comes a jerky graceful thin brush, which is of great importance in the composition of the image. Paganini’s motif went through the entire creative process of Konenkov, who highly praised the original plaster casting of the first sculpture and its very care. After 46 years, a bronze statue was made from her, and then, in 1906, the master dreamed of carving it from marble.

Konenkov showed the great Italian at the moment when he pressed the violin to his shoulder, a moment ago tearing the bow from the strings, completing the melody. The violinist’s gaze is directed at the strings of the instrument, and the last echoes of divine sounds still sound in the air. After the exhibition at which the sculpture was presented, it was bought by D.N. Ryabushinsky and locked in his mansion, and before emigrating he hid it in such a way that so far no one has been able to find it. Konenkov repeatedly returned to the image of his character, and after half a century he created another version - already from a tree.

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