The series dedicated to the defence of Moscow also includes the present painting Wartime Moscow, a unique painted memorial, clearly set at the end of autumn 1941, depicting the soldiers who had heroically defended the city through heavy battles walking towards immortality along the waterfront of the beleaguered city at night.
In June 1941, forces of Nazi Germany had invaded the Soviet Union. This marked the beginning of 'Operation Barbarossa' and a war on the Eastern Front. The present work shows anonymous, well dressed and well armed Soviet soldiers marching to confront the invaders. The landscape behind the soldiers is generically depicted but clearly Obrosov intended to evoke memories of the Battle of Moscow, fought between October 1941 and January 1942. Whilst soldiers fought at the front, students and women frantically built anti-tank trenches, and barrage balloons, visible in the present work, provided defence from the sky.
Tempera on canvas
150cm x 180cm
The 1930s and 40s – a time of war and Stalinist oppression – shaped the subjects and sentiments of the art of Igor Obrosov, People's Artist of the Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic, full member of the USSR Academy of Arts, and winner of USSR and Russian Federation State Prizes.
During these years, his father – a well-known doctor and one of the formative figures in Soviet medicine – was arrested and subsequently executed. His older brother died on the front; and his own life was full of the deprivations of pre-frontline Moscow, where he had to live in the military hospital where his mother was working. This severe world, full of contrasts, yet almost monochrome, with people who appeared dispassionate and reserved, was indelibly inscribed upon Obrosov's memory and on the series of paintings and graphic works of the 1970–1990s, the most famous of which bear dedications by the artist: Dedicated to the women of the second world war, Dedicated to father, Dedicated to the defenders of Moscow.