Night of the feast

The composition of coloured terracotta depicts a scene from Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel “The Master and Margarita” where Pontius Pilate, just before the denouement, is in the grip of an affliction which only his faithful loving dog can share. Not a direct illustration to the famed novel, the sculptural group nevertheless addresses one of its key motifs – self-redemption and acceptance. “The cruel fifth Procurator of Judaea” with his face turned upwards is represented as suffering deeply; the blood-red lining of his mantle seems to reflect on his arms and face, and the contrast with the black dog adds poignancy to the image. The dog’s stretched body forms an arc reaching out towards the sitting procurator – this arc seems ominous but at the last moment opens itself up with a trusting gesture of genuine devotion and love. The clay’s soft texture adds to the image a note of enlightened lyricism. Combining drama and lyricism, suffering and hope, misery and love, the statue speaks a genuinely “Bulgakovian” language with its characteristic play of paradoxes, metaphors and elevated drama.


Brief annotations to the image

NIGHT OF THE FEAST’s story is borrowed from Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel “The Master and Margarita”: “lying at his feet and gazing into the twilit garden without even looking at Pilate the dog knew at once that its master was troubled. It moved, got up, went round to Pilate's side and laid its forepaws and head on the Procurator's knees, smearing the hem of his cloak with wet sand. Banga's action seemed to mean that he wanted to comfort his master and was prepared to face misfortune with him. This he tried to express in his eyes and in the forward set of his ears. These two, dog and man who loved each other, sat in vigil together on the balcony that night of the feast.”