Description of the picture:
The copper serpent – Fedor Antonovich Bruni. 1841. Oil on canvas. 565×852
Fedor Antonovich Bruni (1799-1875) – an outstanding master of historical painting of the first half of the XIX century. The multi-figure compositions created by him won fame and recognition by contemporaries.
Work on the picture The Copper Serpent It was conducted by the artist for fifteen years, and this is explained not only by the enormous size of the canvas, but also by the difficulty of comprehending and writing the Old Testament story deep in philosophical content. The Jewish people rescued from Egyptian captivity, led by Moses, wandered in the waterless desert for forty long years. Tormented by thirst and hunger, tired people grumbled, and the Lord sent punishment on them – rain from poisonous snakes. Then the people repented and began to pray for mercy, to which the Lord commanded Moses to erect a colossus and put a serpent on it. He who looks at him with the truth of faith in salvation through the Lord will be pardoned.
The artist set himself the difficult task of portraying the diverse reaction of a many-sided crowd, showing the degree of faith and submission to the divine will of each person. But the people represented on the canvas are more likely to be seized with fear than full of deep humility at the command of Heaven.
The artist’s attempt to present the action in night illumination, grabbing the figured compositions by the moonlight, gives the sound of the picture notes of symbolism and makes a mystical impression."