This monumental tableau shows an armed woman breastfeeding a malnourished partisan fighter in a scorched battlefield.
The composition was inspired by Peter Paul Rubens' Roman charity in the Hermitage Collection 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, such as Caravaggio.
Dantsig was moved by this painting at the Hermitage and drew a parallel between the Nazi occupation during World War II, when Belarus had "suckled the partisan movement" in the same way as Pero had her own father. Iconographically, the legend of Pero and Cimon represents the virtue of self-sacrifice, a message which was strongly emphasised in the literature and art of the post-war Soviet Union.
Oil on canvas
300см × 300cm
Dantsig 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 Pokarzhevsky and Viktor Tsyplakov. From 1958, he took part in large exhibitions across the Soviet Union and abroad.