This particular work of art struck me immediately with its ability to represent an intersection between the past, present, and future given the context of the Russian Revolution of 1917. Painted by the interesting figure Ku’zma Petrov-Vodkin, his life and influence on the painting helps explain the intersection represented in the work. Born into a family from the proletariat class (his father was a shoemaker) he was also a deeply religious man, with the view the new revolution was a temporary challenge to suffer on the ultimate path to salvation.
The Petrograd Madonna represents this religious influence in its style, the painting also being a reflection of Petrov-Vodkin’s earliest teacher, an icon painter. The stylistic iconography in the Petrograd Madonna is a dopplegänger to the same style popular throughout eastern Orthodoxy. The background apart from the woman and her child seem to represent the growing changes in Russian society, with crowds and people forming on the streets. The woman’s back turned to this is perhaps the rejection of this movement and an adherence to tradition, all while shielding her child from these movements. The woman also gives a vey uncertain and vague gaze, representing the current attitude toward the future of the Russian people.