The Filatov Family Art Fund has acquired the 'Partisan Ballade' (1969), a painting by celebrated Belorussian artist Mai Dantsig and inspired by a 17th century Rubens masterpiece. The artwork, which shows an armed woman breastfeeding a malnourished partisan fighter in what looks like a scorched battlefield, represents a socialist realist interpretation of a typical Baroque subject.

The painting draws on Peter Paul Rubens' 'Roman Charity' (1612), which depicts Cimon, who was sentenced to death by starvation, being secretly breastfed by his daughter Pero. Rubens painted several versions of the scene, as did other famous baroque artists like Caravaggio.

Seeing the painting at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Dantsig saw parallels with the Nazi occupation during World War II, as Belarus had similarly 'suckled the partisan movement.' In Ancient Rome the legend of Pero and Cimon was representative of the virtue of self-sacrifice, while in the post-war Soviet Union the partisan movement was used as a similar exemplary story in literature and art.

While the painting adheres to the socialist realist style by glorifying the struggle and sacrifice of ordinary people during the war, it is original in the way it depicts the subject, as well as its execution. The dark palette and earthy colours are reminiscent of the Old Masters canvases and the baroque style, while the execution shows some elements of the so-called first phase of Cubism expressed by the simplification, distortion and emphasis of forms.

Andrey Filatov, founder of the Fund, said: "Mai Dantsig's painting is an example of the wide breadth of socialist realist artwork. Although depicting and glorifying the Partisan movement, a typical subject of the Soviet Union, the artist takes an original and provocative approach by using different styles and echoing a classical theme. This allowed him to create a powerful and truly unique masterpiece."


'Partisan Ballade' (1969) – Oil on canvas, 300 x 300 cm.

Additional Information:

Mai Volfovich Dantsig (b. 1930) is a Belorussian artist and a professor at the Belorussian Academy of Arts. From 1952 to 1958, he studied at the Moscow State Institute of V.I. Surikov under the guidance of Vitaly Tsvirko, Petr Pokarzhevskyand Viktor Tsyplakov. From 1958, he took part in large exhibitions across the Soviet Union and abroad. His works are owned by the State Tretyakov Gallery, the National Art Museum of Belarus, as well as galleries and private collections in Russia, Belgium, Germany, Israel, USA and other countries.