Million Scarlet Roses from Niko Pirosmani
Million Scarlet Roses from Niko Pirosmani. Georgian artist Niko Pirosmani (5 May 1862 – April 9, 1918) was a primitivist, one of those artists about whom people far from understanding art, say: “I would have painted not worse than that”. But only a blind man can not see the whole poignancy of the artist’s painting. Behind the apparent naivete of painted on canvas animals and holiday feasts are hidden deep feelings – pain through the joy and pleasure through pain. And it becomes more than obvious if you know a little about the life of Niko Pirosmani. When asked about the age, Niko replied with a shy smile: “How should I know?” Time for him went his own way and did not correlate with boring numbers on the calendar.
Father of Nikolai was a gardener, the family lived in poverty, Niko herded sheep, helping his parents. Nikolai had a brother and two sisters. Little Niko was only 8 years old when he became orphaned. One after another, died his parents, older brother and sister. He and his sister Peputsa were alone in the whole world. The girl was taken to the village by distant relatives, and Niko got into a rich and happy family of landlords Kalantarovs.
For many years he lived in the strange position half-servant and half-relative. The Kalantarovs loved Niko, they proudly showed his drawings to guests. They taught the boy Georgian and Russian grammar and honestly tried to attach the boy to any trade, but “dumb” Niko did not want to grow up.
In the early 1890s, Niko realized it was time to leave the hospitable home and grow up. He managed to get the current position on the railway. He became a brakeman. The service was not a joy to him. Standing on the steps, cursing stowaway, to be distracted from contemplation and to press the brake, not to sleep, and listen carefully to the signals – not for an artist. But nobody knew that Niko – the artist. Using every opportunity, Niko did not go to work. At this time Pirosmani opened dangerous beauty of oblivion, which gives the wine … After three years of service Piromanishvili retires from the railroad.
Niko makes another attempt to become a good citizen. He opens the dairy shop. The shop sign decorates a cute cow, milk is always fresh, cream is undiluted – things are going very well. Pirosmanishvili builds a house for his sister in native Mirzaani and even covers the house with iron roof. He could hardly imagine that this house would be his museum. Trade – exactly the wrong business for an artist, so, the business was run by his companion Dimitr.
In March 1909 on pedestals in Ortachaly garden appeared the posters: “New! Theater “Belle Vue”. Only 7 perfomances of the beautiful Marguerite de Sevres in Tiflis. Unique gift to sing chansons and dance the cake-walk at the same time! Niko fell in love with a Frenchwoman at first sight. “She is not a woman, but a pearl of precious casket!” – He exclaimed.
Love of poor artist was a burden to her. Although Niko was loved no less than her, she could not transcend herself and respond favorably. He tried to win her by his painting “Marguerite” which he called in her honor, then waited for her… She sometimes even didn’t give him a look. This led him into a frenzy – sometimes he fell on the dusty track, on which has just stepped feet of charming Marguerite, and watering with tears, kissed her traces with his loving lips …
This irritated the beautiful singer even more. As a true Christian, she could not understand how this already old, though a talented man, created an idol from her. Who she could be for him? Wife? Hardly. She would have had to be his mother, constantly wiping away his tears and supporting throughout. Mistress? But will this proud and a little bit crazy person could agree to this?
In Tiflis loved to tell the story of unrequited love of Niko, and each expounded it in his own way: “Niko was feasting with friends and refused to visit the actress in the hotel, although she called him” – said drunks.
“Margarita spent night with poor Niko, and then got scared by too strong feelings and had left!” – claimed poets.
“He loved an actress, but they lived separately” – shrugged realists.
“Pirosmani has never seen Marguerite, and painted a portrait from posters” – said skeptics.
Romantic version of the story Million Scarlet Roses from Niko Pirosmani:
This first summer morning was no different from the others. Still inexorably hitting all around, the sun was rising from Kakheti, just sobbed donkeys tied to a telegraph pole. Morning still dormant in one of the lanes in sololaki shadow lying on the gray low wooden houses. In one of these houses, behind a small window, slept Margarita. In general, the morning would be really very ordinary, unless you know that it was the morning of the birthday of Niko Pirosmanishvili and it was this morning when in a narrow alley in sololaki appeared carts with rare and beautiful load.
Carts were loaded with the flowers sprinkled with water. From this it seemed that the flowers were covered with hundreds of tiny rainbows. Arba stopped by the house of Marguerite. Men, talking in a low voice, began to take off armfuls of flowers and dump them on the sidewalk and the roadway at the door. It seemed that flowers not only from all over the Tiflis, but also from all over Georgia were brought here.
Laughter and shouts of children woke Marguerite up. She sat on the bed and sighed. She smelled something refreshing, bright and gentle, happy and sad – filled the air. Agitated Marguerite, still not understanding, dressed quickly. She put on her best, the richest dress and heavy bracelets, tidied her bronze hair and smiling, she knew nothing. She guessed that this holiday had been arranged for her. But by whom? And on what occasion?
At this time, the only man, thin and pale, decided to cross the border of flowers and walked slowly through the flowers to the house of Marguerite. The crowd recognized him and stopped. It was a beggar artist Niko Pirosmanishvili. Where he took so much money to buy these hills of flowers? So much money! He walked to the house of Marguerite, touching the wall by his hand. Everyone saw how she ran toward Niko – yet no one has ever seen her in such a blaze of beauty – she hugged Pirosmani, clung to his old cheek and first kissed Niko on his lips. Kissed the face of the sun, the sky and the common people.
Some people turned away to hide their tears. People thought that a lot of love will always find a way to a loved one, even if to the cold heart. Love of Niko won Marguerite. Thus, at least all considered. Yet it was impossible. Soon Marguerite found herself a rich lover and ran away with him from Tiflis.
Portrait of the actress Marguerite de Sevres witnessed the beautiful love. White face, white dress, touching outstretched hands, a bouquet of white flowers – and laid to the feet of actress words … “I forgive you”.
Nikolai finally broke with business and became an itinerant painter. His name was increasingly pronounced short – Pirosmani. Dimitr appointed to his companion pension – a ruble a day, but not always, Niko came for the money. More than once he was offered shelter, permanent job, but Niko always refused.
Finally, Pirosmani invented good, as it seemed to him, a way out. He began painting for dukhans (small cafes) bright signs for a couple of lunches with wine and a couple of dinners. Part of the earnings he took to buy paint and pay for the night. He worked remarkably quickly – for a few hours Niko created small paintings and for two or three days large works. It is now his paintings are worth millions, and during his lifetime the artist received for his work ridiculously little.
“Life is short, as the donkey’s tail” – the artist liked to say, and worked, worked, worked … He created about 2,000 paintings, of which no more than 300 survived. Some paintings ungrateful owners threw away, something burned in the fire of revolution, some pictures were just painted over.
A few Russian artists tried to help Pirosmani, in particular, brothers Zdanevich. But in Moscow, the painting of Georgian artist was understood poorly, or not at all. Last year and a half the artist was sick all the time, all cafes went bankrupt, in the city began the revolutionary turmoil, and he was left without a livelihood. Society of Georgian artists decided to help Pirosmani, but didn’t find him.
May 5, 1918, 96 years ago, in one of the hospitals for the poor in Tbilisi the poor artist died. The day before his neighbors, realizing that Niko did not appear among the people for a week, got together and opened the door in a closet, where he lived. 56-year-old “house painter”, as his friends called him, was lying in a deep swoon starvation. He did not have strength to open his eyes.
The dying man was taken to the hospital, hoping for a miracle. But miracles are extremely rare. The next day 55-year-old Pirosmani died. He didn’t have documents, and in the hospital book was recorded as an unknown pauper, he was not buried in the cemetery. Where the tomb of Pirosmani is unknown.
Brothers Zdanevich wrote a biography and books on Pirosmani, their names are listed in all encyclopedias. They collected almost all the works of Pirosmani made on the oilcloth and tin signs. The museum in Tbilisi contains the majority of paintings of the artist.
In 1969, an exhibition of works of Pirosmani took place in Paris, in the Louvre. Special attention Parisians paid to the painting “Actress Margarita”. To this picture came up every day some middle-aged woman. It lasted as long as the Georgian artists noticed that there was something in common – in the context of the eyes, facial expression, in a manner to keep herself. So Marguerite de Sevres, live, but grown old, met again with her Pirosmani, regretting memorable years of her youth, the great love … She only said with concealed pride to assembled reporters: “Do not think that Pirosmani treated the actress Margarita lightly no, no, he loved her like a true knight!”.
“A Million Scarlet Roses” – well-known even iconic and legendary Soviet song, performed by not less legendary Alla Pugacheva. The song is completely devoted to the love story of Niko Pirosmani, the poor artist who was deeply in love with a French actress. He sold his house and bought million flowers, filling the square in front of her hotel window (allegedly bankrupting himself). The song is worth listening.
Million Scarlet Roses from Niko Pirosmani