Dantsig's work is a pure product of Socialist Realism. His style, however, shows a deep awareness of the Old Masters canvases and the baroque style, whilst there are also elements of Cubism expressed by the simplification, distortion and emphasis of geometric forms.
Dantsig's painting shows the Soviet Army's discovery of Raphael's Sistine Madonna. Raphael's masterpiece had been commissioned in 1512 by Pope Julius II and, following its purchase by Augustus III of Poland in 1754, it was relocated to Dresden. During the bombing of World War II, the work was stored with other artworks in a tunnel in Saxony where it was later uncovered by the Red Army following their advance in 1945. The picture was taken to Moscow until 1955 when, for the purposes of 'strengthening' relationships between the Russian and German peoples, it was returned to Dresden.
Dantsig saw a parallel between the liberation of this painting from a dark tunnel and the liberation of Europe from Fascist rule. In Dantsig's view, 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 the Madonna and Child symbolises "the new life liberated by the Soviet army", whilst 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 40th anniversary of Victory Day which marked the capitulation of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union.
Oil on canvas
350 × 700 cm
Dantsig was 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.