Reader of Dostoevsky, by Emil Filla, 1907
Reader of Dostoevsky, by Emil Filla, 1907 (Oil on canvas, 98.5 x 80cm).
Dostoevsky's novels are deeply concerned with the spread of contagious ideas: Russian men and women are 'infected' with Western philosophies and ideologies, to catastrophic effect. Ironically, the world has responded in turn by wondering how Dostoevsky's works affect his readers. Czech painter and leading avant-gardist Emil Filla depicts one such 'modern Raskolnikov' in 1907. Notice the prominent crucifix, located at or near the light source. What is Filla suggesting? Is this an ironic or at least deeply ambiguous response to Dostoevsky's novel?
National Gallery in Prague.
Image in the public domain, via Terminartors.