Evpaty Kolovrat


The rendering of the illustrious war chieftain’s figure is quite ambiguous: the statue articulates not so much the heroic virtue of human legend or the archetypal might of a knight as a human voice striking the notes of eternity. This is why in the treatment of attributes – a plain stool, solid polearm, puttees, a massive cross on a plain rope – ethnographic historicism is sidelined by associations and symbolism of a generic nature. Depicting Kolovrat seated in a relaxed position, the artist articulates his desire to avoid the stereotype of a dashing fighter in favour of spotlighting the complex emotions of the not-so-young man. However, Kolovrat’s posture does not signal an absolute contemplative calm. The interaction of the inner axes – the slant of the polearm, reinforced with the line of a flexed leg, the thrust of the outstretched other leg and an extended arm – appear to be working up an inner potential dynamics, which ripens and slowly but steadily readies itself for action. The fairly unathletic frame of the hero reasserts the distance between the mythologized figure and the reality, while also lending to the statue an element of national flavour. There is not even a hint of the dilemmas confronting Russian sculptors of the early-19th century, who tried to bring together classic sculpture, with its special rules, and national narratives. The obvious reliance on the entire experience of Russian sculpture enables the artist not only to situate himself comfortably within tradition but also to express the spirit of the new times.

 

Brief annotations to the image

EVPATY KOLOVRAT (1200 — 1238) was a Russian boyar, military leader and war hero who was described in a thirteenth-century Russian epic about the destruction of the city of Ryazan by Batu Khan, which was later incorporated into several chronicles and collections of stories. Fighting, together with his brothers-in-arms, the Mongols, Kolovrat distinguished himself by physical strength, bravery and love for his homeland. He was killed in a battle.