How to Cite
Zaust, S. K. (2021). The Image of the Snow Maiden in the Sketches of Costumes for the Russian Theater of the Late 19th Century: Paths of Evolution. Heritage of Centuries, (2), 54-66.

The Image of the Snow Maiden in the Sketches of Costumes for the Russian Theater of the Late 19th Century: Paths of Evolution

  • © Zaust Sofia K. Cand. Sci. (Theory and History of Culture), Economics and Social Technologies Institute, Saint Petersburg State Industrial Technologies and Design University, Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation


The aim of the study is to identify the ways and features of the transformation of the fairytale image of the Snow Maiden (the main heroine of the play of the same name by Alexander Ostrovsky) in the conditions of the Russian stage of the late 19th century. The work was carried out on the basis of sketches of stage costumes created by Russian easel painters of the late 19th century. Other important sources were studies in the field of the history of Russian painting and scenography, the history of folk and stage costumes, ethnography; biographical research on Viktor Vasnetsov; Ostrovsky’s diaries. The core of the research was an evolutionary approach, which eventually made it possible to achieve the aim of the study. A comparative historical method was used for discovering the similarity between the motives reflected in the images of the Snow Maiden in the analyzed sketches and Russian folk ornaments of the 19th century that decorated the traditional costumes of Russian peasant women. In the course of the study, the appearance of the Snow Maiden’s costume was analyzed. From how it was shown in the sketches for the first productions of Ostrovsky’s play in the Bolshoi and Maly Theaters (sketches by M. P. Klodt) to the image of the heroine captured in the relief drawing by Mikhail Vrubel. Particular attention was paid to Vasnetsov’s interpretation, in which the image was successfully correlated with the traditional motives that existed in the folk ornament and embroidery of the Russian North. The characteristic features of the image of later authors (Nikolay von Bool and Mikhail Vrubel) were revealed. The later incarnations of the image were studied (for example, in Soviet cinema at the end of the 20th century). It has been established that a sketch of a stage costume solves the problem of the structure of the embodied image, it is an illustration of the author’s artistic beliefs and (in the case of reaching a certain level of artistic perfection) is a guideline for determining the technology of creating a costume. It has been determined that sketches made by old masters of Russian theatrical costume have a special artistic value and expressiveness. The leader among the masters, according to the author, is Vasnetsov, the creator of the authentic, perfect graphics of the Russian folk costume. The image of the Snow Maiden on the Russian stage of the late 19th century developed from the “artistic approach” characteristic of Russian academism and implemented in the works of M. P. Klodt to the most accurate expression of the ideal of Russian beauty embodied by Vasnetsov and further towards popular romanticization (von Bool and Vrubel).

Keywords: stage costume, folk costume, sketches of costumes for The Snow Maiden opera, 19-century Russian theater, Vasnetsov, von Bool, Klodt, Vrubel