ivan susanin


Konstantin Makovsky (1839—1915, Russia)

History paintings

Makovsky was an influential Russian painter, affiliated with the Peredvizhniki school of Realism. While some of his work reacts against the Academy, he found success in the Salon alongside other Academic painters, and his work can be seen as perhaps related to the French movement of Academic Naturalism. Many of his historical paintings showed an idealised, Romantic view of Russian life of prior centuries, with a particular focus on Boyar people and culture. He was also a popular and prolific portrait painter.


Kostroma - is a historic city and a part of the Golden Ring of Russian towns, it is located at the confluence of the Volga and Kostroma Rivers. 

 The city was first recorded in the chronicles for the year 1213. Like other towns of the Eastern Rus, Kostroma was sacked by the Mongols in 1238. Kostroma was twice ravaged by the Poles; it took a six-month siege to expel them from the Ipatiev monastery. The heroic peasant Ivan Susanin became a symbol of the city’s resistance to foreign invaders;several monuments to him may be seen in Kostroma. The future Tsar, Mikhail Romanov, also lived at the monastery. It was here that an embassy from Moscow offered him the Russian crown in 1612. 

Кострома - исторический город России,входящий в Золотое кольцо, расположен у слияния рек Волги и Костромы.  Город впервые упоминается в летописях в 1213 году. Подобно другим городам Восточной Руси, Кострома была разграблена монголами в 1238 году. Дважды в своей истории Кострому завоевывали поляки. Потребовалась шестимесячная осада, чтобы изгнать их из Ипатьевского монастыря. Герой крестьянин Иван Сусанин стал символом сопротивления города иноземным захватчикам, сейчас в самом городе располагается несколько памятников, посвященных ему. Будущий царь Михаил Романов также жил в Ипатьевском монастыре. Именно в Костроме в 1612 году делегация из Москвы предложила ему стать русским царем.

Vladimir Tatlin - Scenery for the opera “Ivan Susanin”, 1913

Vladimir Tatlin was the father of constructivism and a key person in Russian avant-garde movement.

His works created a kind of revolution in art, Tatlin even became an icon for dadaists.

Funny thing is that Tatlin quarreled with other great avant-garde artist - Malevich. Malevich was about “art is just form and color”, and Tatlin was like “ok throw away your chair and try to sit on the color”.


One of the most popular legends of Imperial Russia was that of a simple peasant Ivan Susanin. While some aspects of the story were added later, Ivan Susanin did exist, as suggested by a certain Bogdan Sobinin from Domnino village, located near Kostroma, receiving one half of Dervischi village from Tsar Mikhail I in 1619, allegedly for his father-in-law´s refusal to reveal the location of the newly electe Tsar to the Poles in 1613. Ivan was tortured by them to death without pointing them to the right direction. The legend itself grew to be more specific: 

Domnino was owned by Xenia Shestova, mother of the young Tsar, and she was hiding there for a time with her son. The Poles roaming the land in the Time of Troubles set out to murder the boy, so their own king could claim the Russian throne. Yet not knowing the exact location of the village, they started to ask the locals for direction. Eventually they came across a woodlogger Ivan Susanin. He guessed their intentions and promised to lead them to the village. But instead he led them furhther and further into the dens forest. When they finally realized they had been tricked, the enranged Poles murdered Susanin, but they themselves could not find the way out of the forest and they perished, frozen to death.

In the early 19th century the legend of Ivan Susanin became immenselly popular and was used as a motif in many works of art, most notably in Glinka´s “Life for the Tsar”. There were monuments raised in Susanin´s honour and his descendants were specially invited for coronation of each and every Romanov Tsar up until the Revolution. A little more ironic tribute to the woodlogger persists too. The name “Susanin” is used for those people who claim to know the way, yet do not.


bass-baritone Igor Bakan sings Ivan Susanin’s aria from Mikhail Glinka’s opera A Life for the Tzar