It is a simply beautiful picture.
A lone man stands in a small boat anchored in quiet waters, gazing at the rainbow rising high into the sky above him. It rises out of the rocky coast ahead, shining against clouds that fill an immense sky, light against their darkness. A soft light fills the painting ahead of it; darkness lurks in the clouds behind it and shadows in the sea behind the boat.
There is a sense of solitude, of loneliness, of a man alone bearing witness to the grandeur of sky, land and sea. He is both diminished and enthralled by nature’s promise and power.
The ethereal light glows, softening the clouds, filling the sky, touching land and water and the man and his boat. The rainbow seems to bridge the divide between earth and sky, between storm and calm, like a promise of better things to come.
The artist, Nikolay Dubovskoy, was a member of the Wanderers, that group of Russian artists who took their art into the countryside to share with their countrymen. He shared the group’s commitment to painting realistically and to using his art to build Russians’ knowledge of and pride in their country. For them, painting was a way to express their love of the nation they hoped to help build.
But here you get the sense that he was also a man in love with his art – in love with it in the sense that he found that it demanding and inspiring, that it moved him to learn, grow, expand, experiment. To learn to create light on canvas.
There are many different ways of painting light. Here it fills the scene like a blessing, with promise of the rainbow running through it.
This is not just a landscape, it is an expression of love.