The Filatov Family Art Fund purchased the monumental painting 'And the world remembers the saviours' (1985) by renowned Belorussian artist Mai Dantsig. The artwork depicts the moment of the 'liberation' of Raphael’s Sistine Madonna from a tunnel, which for the artist represents a metaphor of the liberation of Europe from fascism.

Dantsig’s painting shows the Soviet Army’s discovery of Raphael’s Sistine Madonna which has been part of the Dresden Gallery’s collection in Germany since 1754.The oil painting by the Italian artist was commissioned in 1512 by Pope Julius II and subsequently relocated to Dresden. In order to save the iconic painting from the bombing of Dresden in World War II, the Nazis stored it with other artwork in a tunnel in Saxony where it was later uncovered by the Red Army.

Dantsig saw a parallel between the event and the liberation of Europe from fascist rule: the world’s culture and civilisation is epitomised in the reproduction of the original Sistine Madonna at the centre of the painting. According to the painter, the image of Maria and Jesus symbolises “the new life liberated by the Soviet army”, while the wounded and exhausted soldiers represent the high price paid to stop fascism.

Dantsig worked for over ten years to complete the painting and finished it in 1985, the year of the 40thanniversary of Victory Day which marks the capitulation of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union. The glorification of the Soviet victory is characteristic of the official socialist realism style, but the artist’s manner is strikingly different from the majority of ideological art. While Dantsig’s famous rich red unites the composition and energises the image, there are hardly any references to the communist banner. The powerful circular composition is reminiscent of Raphael’s famous painting, while the people, normally the main subjects of socialist realism, appear almost as the background.

Andrey Filatov, founder of the Fund, said: “Mai Dantsig is one of Belarus’s most celebrated artists. His work is representative of the immense creative energy that existed behind the Iron Curtain. The unique style and symbolic approach make the painting a unique gem that was born out of the country’s difficult past.”


'And the world remembers the saviours' (1985), oil on canvas, 350 x 700 cm

Additional information:

Mai Volfovich Dantsig (b. 1930) is a celebrated Belorussian artist. 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, and galleries private collections in Russia, Belgium, Germany, Israel, USA, and other countries.