“Battle on the Ice” in images and paintings

HELL. Kivshenko. “Prince Alexander wounds Jarl Birger”, 1888 Well, what can you say? There is no living place in this picture from the point of view of historical realism. Not a single one! You had to be able to do that … And he also painted “The Council in Fili” …

Then Prince Alexander spoke
and many others with him
Russians from Suzdal.
They had countless bows,
a lot of beautiful armor.
Their banners were rich
their helmets emitted light.
Elder Livonian Rhymed Chronicle

Art and history. “Where’s The Massacre?” Such appeals from readers of “VO” came to me after the publication of material about the Battle of Kulikovo in images and pictures. And with “Massacre” so: there was a time when it was even very reluctant to write. Then, on the contrary, unless the lazy one did not write it. So it is physically impossible to give analysis to all the pictures in which it is depicted. But the topic is certainly very interesting, so it’s time to consider it as well. But we will have to start … again, with the newspaper Pravda, which on April 5, 1942, that is, just in time for the anniversary, published an article dedicated to this event. Other material, and even with a picture, was published by the Moscow Bolshevik newspaper.

Editorial from Pravda, April 5, 1942. Note that there is no mention of the drowning of the knights in the lake in the text. And why? Because this is not in the earliest and most reliable chronicle texts. So the Pravda journalists have compiled “Pravdist” material, which no historian could find fault with, neither ours, nor foreign, because Pravda always writes … the truth!

Article in the newspaper “Moscow Bolshevik”. But no one in the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) could forbid the newspaper “Moscow Bolsheviks” to fantasize, and the journalists “drew themselves off” to the fullest! And in the picture there are both armor and horns – in a word, a complete gentleman’s set of “chained knights” who eventually, of course, drown!


By this time, Eisenstein’s film “Alexander Nevsky” was already everywhere on the screens of the USSR, which was first released for hire, then, after August 23, 1939, it was removed from the box office and put on the shelf, but after June 22, 1941 it was released again, though and not immediately, but only after Stalin’s words that in the fight against the enemies of our Motherland we need to be equal to our heroic ancestors.

N.K. Roerich. “Alexander strikes the jarl Birger with a spear”, 1904. In fact, at first they even more often depicted Prince Alexander, “putting a stamp on Birger’s face with a spear”. So N. Roerich paid tribute to this subject and painted in his own decorative manner … a purely decorative picture. It is interesting that Alexander is holding a spear on it with both hands, “in Sarmatian”, which in 1240 had not been practiced for at least 500 years.

His second canvas, “The Russian War”, on the same theme, but written in 1942 is just as decorative and exotic


Well, then paintings on this epic theme fell like a cornucopia. And it’s clear why …

V. A. Serov painted two pictures. The first is the actual battle and the second: “The entry of Alexander Nevsky to Pskov after the Battle on the Ice.” It is interesting that the latter is somehow very much in common … with “Boyarynya Morozova”. And here we, in fact, have nothing to look for. There is a prince, there are German prisoners at the stirrup, the people are present and rejoicing … There is nothing to complain about.

But that’s where the battle is …

“Entry of Alexander Nevsky to Pskov after the Battle on the Ice” by V. A. Serov

“Battle on the Ice”. V.A.Serov, 1942. Here, of course, everything is more interesting. Let’s not talk about faces, postures – they are “full of anger and determination”, as it should be. But this was probably the first time that an artist would draw helmets … from a movie. Yes, yes, look at the “chudinets” in the center of the canvas, with a round shield and sword. On his head he has a “helmet” well, exactly from the movie “Alexander Nevsky”. There is also a topfhelm with horns lying around, well, how can it be without them. And I just want to ask: in which of the branches of Mostorg, which sells ironmongery, did the author look after the ax that the guy in the sheepskin coat is holding, with which he chops the German in the snow? Well, after all, the Armory Chamber is in Moscow, the State Historical Museum – in Moscow, and the difference between battle axes and workers, which were in use in the XIII century, was already known. But no, he did not bother with all this. The simpler, the “better”!


That is, it began with this, and then samples of blatant negligence, completely unworthy of national history, began to multiply and multiply, and multiply. For example, the artist Dmitry Pavlovich Kostylev. And he graduated, and a member of prestigious unions, and went to the open air in France … In a word, a master. He writes to himself: “For me, creativity is an attempt to find answers to the eternal questions of human existence … And an appeal to worthy and strong personalities of the past and present – such as St. Peter, Metropolitan of Moscow or Peter I, the Russian Emperor, and others, comes from the desire to get closer to this goal by the examples of their lives … “Great! And this is how it is solved in color …

The prince was discharged as it should. Eagle prince (figure on the left), to be sure. But what skill did the artist lack for his opponent? What kind of helmet is he wearing? Wearing a microcephalus on your head, isn’t it? But there is also hair, and a comforter … And then there are horns in the form of a lyre … Well, it is known that the knights of St. Mary of Teutonic had a Templar charter and were forbidden to decorate their weapons (and helmets as well), and even more so to cling the horns of the unclean on them! The Livonian Chronicle says: “brothers in rich helmets,” that is, gilded, because gilding signifies this wealth and protects it from rust. The shoulder … and the back are obviously armor. But what armor in 1242? And, by the way, where further from the shoulder does the hand go, or was it cut off with a shield? There is no hand, but an artist! And after all, when he draws naked girls, then everything is in place

“Massacre” by V. M. Nazaruk. Here again, one solid epic. And in fact, the name “World Flood” would be much more suitable for her!

“The Massacre” by S. N. Prisekin


Here we see a riot of the author’s boundless imagination. Let’s start from left to right and laugh a lot. First of all, an archer in a cuirass and a bourguignot helmet, that is, in armor from somewhere in the middle of the 16th century. There and then again a bunch of helmets from “Nevsky …”, and in full view there is a crossbowman and turns the “Nuremberg knob”, which also had not yet been invented in 1242. Prince Alexander lost his helmet somewhere, but did not abandon the battle, well, it happens, but something else makes me laugh: a man in an undershirt with a three-piece pitchfork. And the Germans with halberds are one more strange than the other. Apparently borrowed from Swiss mercenaries after the Battle of Sempach. And those were simpler then. And those that are here, in the picture – this is the 17th century, no less! Well, in the foreground, of course, who? A man in bast shoes! But bast shoes were the peasants’ working shoes, and summer ones. On the issue of the history of the spread of bast shoes in Russia, there is a rich historiography and a whole range of opinions, often mutually opposite. It is also known that they put on all the best in war in order to impress the enemy. So, although there is no consensus about the bast shoes, I would not draw the bast shoe in the foreground. What a strange desire to exaggerate our austerity? What for? I would have put on some goat skin supports. Did they do such then? And the picture from this would not have become worse!

VV Matorin’s painting surprises others. The mass of infantry in white … And where are the horsemen? After all, it is said: “the pig” brothers went. But this is the formation of the cavalry. Or did the order’s infantrymen, dressed in chain mail, fled so briskly that they found themselves on the line of contact at the same time as the horsemen?

The painting by A.I.Borisov is made in the best traditions of the worst socialist realism. All knights in armor of the XVI century. and the infantry rushing, putting forward the halberds


In the 90s, many battle paintings were painted by the artist Igor Dzys. And among his works is “The Massacre”. And this work of his (see below) is an excellent example of what an artist can do, who, firstly, knows how to draw, and secondly, knows historical realities, that is, the material component of culture, the statutes of knightly orders, and most importantly – understands the difference between singular and mass. And on this canvas of his there is a single, and massive, and appropriate to the era, and able to correspond – in a word, this is perhaps the only work that can be set as an example to other artists.

Painting by I. Dzysya

But the artist E. Emelyanov has been working on his large-scale canvas for almost 10 years. And in this he came out with a huge diorama, exhibited by him in the Artillery Museum in St. Petersburg. And everything seems to be fine: the order flag with three braids, and the knights, as if from the Osprey edition, are recognizable, but … all the same, the ice breaks, the knights drown – and where? In the lake, where the sparrow is knee-deep! For 10 years it would be possible to find an answer to this “painful question” of our time …

The work of D. Gordeev


If you look at his blog, individually, the warriors will look very good. But in the picture we see that both the knights and our warriors use spears completely wrong. This is how they used the Bayeux Tapestry. But then the dominant technique became the javelin (that is, when it is clamped under the arm!), Since the spears themselves became longer! And for some reason they all belong to the Order of the Dobrzyński brothers. Maybe this shows their battle with Daniel Galitsky, who defeated them in 1237? Because on Lake Peipsi the knights were wearing black crosses. Well, why did the knight in the horned helmet bow his head like that? To see nothing in the slit of the helmet? That is, it is not enough to know who was dressed how at that time. We must also have an idea of ​​tactics and not interfere with the infantry in the front ranks of the cavalry!

And here is the creation of A. Yezhov (2009)


By this time, as they say, well, everything, everything became known, everything is there, the Internet works – take it and write. Or … sketch. But no! We look at “this” carefully. God bless him, with the knight that crawls out of the hole. But look how Prince Alexander, being on his horse a little behind from the German knight in the center, still manages to hit him in the chest with a spear! Well, this does not happen and it was not necessary to draw like that! And he drew, saw that he was mistaken, so it was possible and necessary to redraw, and not make people laugh, who look at such “revelations” of our “artists”!

But this is the metro in St. Petersburg. Mosaic “Battle on the Ice” at the metro station “Alexander Nevsky Square”. And very good for a mosaic panel. It is not clear only why the cross of the order is red, and not black, and how a rider is swinging a sword at his opponent with both hands, and so … nothing at all. Well, why does the German need horns? Tea, not a cow …

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