top of page

Shakespearean passions

The strength of feelings

The artist Svyatoslav Ryabkin painted the oil on canvas “Shakespearean passions” (100x75 cm) to celebrate the English playwright and poet William Shakespeare. This time the Ukrainian art has arrived in Italy via Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare's hometown!

The painter sat him on the left side of the canvas as a spectator of his own works. Dear Readers, can you recognize him? He wears the ruff, the pleated collar characteristic of the seventeenth century style.

The festive scene in this domestic interior recalls the dance in the Capuleti house where Romeo, his cousin Benvolio and his friend Mercutio were successful to go there. The painter, called “Slava” by his friends, has represented them and has captured the first encounter between Romeo and Juliet in the center of the room (1st act).

Perfect love is therefore the first feeling that the artist Ryabkin represents with this romantic first kiss. However the second feeling that you can perceive in the air is the hostility that lasted for generations between Montecchi and Capuleti, two lovers’ noble families of Verona.

Ryabkin's friends know that good food can never be missing at a party! So here is that, at the bottom left of the canvas there is an opulent tray of fresh food. This coloured area is lively and stands out on the bright tablecloth above the long table dedicated to the banquet in front of the brown floor that serves as a background.

The blue berries are painted with definition, there is a piece of cheese in the center, a courgette and some carrots harmoniously arranged between the red tomatoes that "link" with the other elements of the same colour in the room (the stools and the mesh of the man near the window) helping to make the depth of the environment.

The fruit and the painting with the big blue gerbera are two examples of still life. Dear Readers, do you know that it was configured as an autonomous genre only at the beginning of the seventeenth century?

The third feeling that Ryabkin told me about after the realization of this picture is jealousy. Yes, the Ukrainian artist was also inspired by another Shakespearean tragedy: “Othello”, the Moor of Venice.

Othello, noble leader, was a good man and in love with his wife, the young and aristocratic Desdemona. Dear Readers, can you see her who is listening to Iago’s persuasive words in the center of the room?

On an excuse he, Othello’s bishop, will induce her to approach Cassio, the Florentine lieutenant who is near the window. He, unaware, will find a Desdemona’s handkerchief, delivered to him from a window by the treacherous Iago. The handkerchief will be proof of Desdemona's (never-before) betrayal. Poor Othello, sitting near Shakespeare with his sad eyes, will be a blind fury. These are other Shakespearean feelings in this beautiful painting: the worm of doubt which will lead Othello to revenge leading to the death of Desdemona and the subsequent sense of remorse once the truth will be discovered.

Iago is in the center of the room as moral protagonist and great manipulator of other characters. He said: "We cannot all be masters, nor can all masters be served faithfully." Deep speech!

The room is very bright due to the presence of the window that guides the gaze along a tree-lined avenue on a sunny day and the sumptuous chandelier in the center that gives stateliness.

The scratched colour technique is a distinctive trait of the artist Svyatoslav Ryabkin who uses the brush in both directions stroking the canvas with the bristles and streaking the dense colour with the tip of his handle. In this way he gives movement to each element and also in "Shakespearean passions" everything is scratchy with the exception of faces that he left smooth and free to make their expressiveness.

This fantastic oil on canvas was painted in 2009 and was successful at an art exhibition held in the Villa Simion Gallery in Spinea (Venice). The public admired the technique and appreciated the nice fruit tray above all else.

"Shakesperean passions" is a perfect synthesis between art and literature: painting concretizes the events that transmit strong emotions. It is a convivial painting, so colourful to remember Chagall's art. Dear Readers, it is perfect for decorating a living room, isn’t it?

Now it is located at Mr. Girotto Giorgio’s “Pica Cornici”, a famous framer in Mogliano Veneto (Treviso).

Look all Ryabkin’s catalogs to discover other wonderful paintings! You can download them in pdf. "Shakespearean passions" is in the 2010 Catalog.

And remember to subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated on upcoming art exhibitions!

By Elena Sechet

bottom of page