After ScreenSaver settings window is activated you can start configuring Levitan's Landscapes. You will see 3 drop down menus and 3 checkboxes.
When "Cycle through all effects" checkbox is selected - you don't need "Transition effects" menu. In that case Screensaver will use all available effects to maximize slideshow experience.
If you wish you can uncheck "Cycle through all effects" checkbox and choose only one particular effect from "Transition effects" menu.
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Setting "Rescale to fit screen" checkbox is very useful when picture size is smaller than your screen resolution.
Landscapes have always occupied a prominent place in Russian painting. In the first half of the nineteenth century, such artists as Venetsianov, then Savrasov, Shishkin, Vasilyev, Polenov and other Russian artists praised in their works the poetic beauty of Russian nature, modest and unremarkable in its outward appearance. Artists found their subject-matter in the countryside, in the fields, woodlands and meadows. In its mood and inspiration, their work was a reflection of the life of the people.
Levitan assimilated the best traditions of these artists. His first paintings were like restrained melodies which later merged to form an intricate musical composition.
Autumn Day. Solwlniki Park, 1879. (The artist Nikolay Chekhov, painted the figure of the woman.) Although the painting may be considered naive, it reveals Levitan's credo: the realm of nature is inseparable from the realm of human feelings. The autumn sky with its low grey clouds, the falling leaves, the hollow rustle of the trees overhead, the empty path - are all in keeping with the sadness of the lonely woman. The artist thus reveals man's inner world through a portrayal of nature.
Levitan's paintings of the years 1883-84 are filled with bright sunlight. Their extraordinary freshness is enchanting (Spring Verdure. May, 1883; Foot-bridge. Village of Savvino, 1884).
In every artist's life there comes a time when all the aspirations of previous years are realized. This happened to Levitan, when he lived on the Volga. The Volga is thus closely linked to his creative life. It was on the Volga that he attained self-awareness and the mode of expression for what he sought. The broad vista, the calm of the far-stretching land, the measured flow of the deep river, the smooth curve of its banks, the epic scope and subtle lyricism together reproduce the inexplicable charm of nature - tranquil and at the same time mighty. Levitan's brush captured the pensive sweep of the Volga, the changing light patterns, the continuous rhythm of life, and the picturesqueness of the landscape. The paintings Evening on the Volga (1888), Evening. The Golden Reach (1889), After the Rain. The Reach (1889), and Evening Bells (1892) brought the artist fame.
In his paintings of the Volga, Levitan tried to reveal the essence of the Russian landscape, its inherent poetry and beauty. He longed to tell about Russia and its people, about their hopes and dreams, their sufferings and hardships. The profound lyricism of Levitan's Volga landscapes creates an almost musical impression. In them one finds tranquillity, restraint of emotion, pensiveness, contemplative-ness,- qualities which make up the harmony of existence.
In the landscape entitled Evening. The Golden Reach, the reflection of the setting sun gives a tint of gold to the sky and to the mirror-like surface of the river. The feeling of short-lived beauty is thus sensed more keenly. Levitan perceives the view which stretches from the steep slope descending to the river's edge and into the distance as part of a beautiful world of bright colours. The verdure of the bank in the foreground of the picture, the church and the house, form the realistic everyday surroundings in which man lives; on this bank the colours are cold, the outlines distinct. But in the background, the opposite river bank is bathed in mist, and the golden sky topples into the golden river, like the vision of an enchanted world inspiring meditation, reflection and hope.
Chekhov and Levitan lived through the worst period of political reaction, the 1880's, when the slightest manifestation of free thought was stifled in Russia. The narrow bourgeois mode of existence was hateful to both men alike. They were convinced that life on earth could be made happy and joyful. As Olga, one of the heroines in Chekhov's play The Three Sisters says: "Our suffering- will turn to joy for those who live after us."
Isaac Ilyich Levitan was born on the 30 (18 old style) of August, 1860, in Kibarty, a small place near the railway station of Ver/h-bolovo (Kovno region). His father, who knew several foreign languages, earned barely enough to support the family. At the beginning of the 1870's the Levitans moved to Moscow, where both the mother and father died shortly afterwards. V'oung Isaac went to live with his brother and two sisters, and hard times began for them all. When fifteen years old, Levitan entered the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. In the memoirs of his contemporaries, we read that "people used to speak of his great gift and his great need". Indeed, many years of poverty preceded recognition.
M. Nesterov, Sergey and Konstantin Korovin, E. Svetoslavsky, and N. Kasatkin studied along with Levitan at the School. Later he became associated with other outstanding artists, such as A. Stepa-nov, V. Serov, and I. Ostroukhov. He was also well acquainted with Fiodor Chaliapin.
Levitan was a man of uncommon good looks: his friend M. Nesterov recalls him as a youth - handsome and graceful, resembling those Italian boys with curly hair who came out to meet the fore-stieri on the old quay of Santa Lucia in Naples or in Florence. In later years, when Nesterov happened to see Levitan wearing a golden dressing-gown and white turban, it seemed to him that his friend had just stepped out of a canvas by Veronese.
Levitan's entire life was dedicated to his work. Art was to him the very essence'and meaning of existence. He approached his work in trepidation, with endless doubts, torments and self-dissatisfaction, but at the same time, with faith in his own ability. Levitan reacted keenly to everything-, but most of all perhaps, to the beauty of nature, which, as Chekhov's sister recalls, he loved deeply.
Levitan suffered at times from fits of depression, but his love of art always gained the upper hand. Though very sensitive, gentle and tactful, he loved an argument and could uphold his views with ardour and spirit.
His long friendship with the artist S. Kuvshinnikova, an noticeable woman in her own right, played an important role in his life. Half of Moscow, mainly members of the artistic intelligentsia, gathered in her salon: the actor and playwright A. Sumbatov-Yuzhin, the artist A. Stepanov, the actor A. Lensky of the Maly Theatre, the singer L. Donskoy, the famous actress M. Yermolova, and the Chekhov brothers. In 1879, through Nikolay, the brother of Anton Chekhov, Levitan made the acquaintance of the Chekhov family. During the summers of 1885-1886, the Chekhovs lived in the Babkino manor - the country estate of the Kiseliovs, a place of rare beauty, in the vicinity of Moscow. Levitan rented a summer house not far away, and later was invited to move to Babkino. The Chekhov family was large, and there was an endless round of jokes and witticisms. They played hard and they worked hard. It was at this time that Levitan painted the portrait of Anton Chekhov, and the landscape The Istra River, which he presented to the writer.
The friendship between Levitan and Chekhov is an extraordinary page in the history of Russian culture. Their profound love of Russia, nature and art brought them together. Chekhov valued Levitan as a landscape artist, and Levitan, in his turn, appreciated this gift in the great writer: "I have carefully re-read your Motley Stories and Twilight, and what strikes me most in your stories is your gift as a landscape painter. To say nothing of the multitude of brilliant thoughts, your landscapes are perfection itself."
At the beginning of the 1890's, the desire to give philosophical meaning to life clearly appears in Levitan's works. He is concerned with man's place in this large and complicated world, the destiny of Russia and its people. The artist continues to seek for the landscape which would be a symbol of Russia's fate. Hence his Vladi-mirka lioad, which appeared in 1892, one of the few examples of a historical landscape in Russian painting. No one before or after Levitan has so boldly revealed the horrors of this period. Never has civic indignation rung out so distinctly.
The road... So many Russian folk songs, verses, novels and tales are associated with that difficult road along which man travels from birth to death. The road often excited Levitan as a landscape theme. The boundless fields, the endless road stretching into the distance, the gloomy clouded sky, the grey and joyless tone of an overcast day, and the lonely figure of a pilgrim, join together to show the breadth and greatness of Russia; at the same time a terrible feeling of oppression and loneliness hangs over the country.
Broad expanses of water always stirred Levitan. In the painting Eternal Rest (1894), the mirror-like vista of the water and the heavy sky depress one and arouse thoughts of the futility and transience of life. This is one of the most tragic landscapes ever painted. On the high bank of the overflowing lake, exposed to the winds, we see the small wooden church and the churchyard with its ramshackle crosses. Not a single human soul is in sight; the wind whistles over the lake. Distinct associations arise: the lake and sky, with its complicated interplay of light and cloud, are perceived as a great, severe, eternal world. And human life is reduced to the island, visible in the distance, which might be inundated by water at nature's whim. Man stands powerless before the mighty forces of nature, like the weak flame of a candle in the window7 of the church.
Levitan loved nature and life writh a consuming passion. The boundless delight which he experienced in nature is manifested in many of his works: for example, in his painting, The Birch Grove (1885-89), bathed in sunlight, so close to the Impressionists, and yet so different in its plasticity of form; in his painting of the rose-coloured gardens of Italy (Spring in Italy, 1890); in his painting of the Mediterranean with its pearl-like radiance (Mediterranean Sea-sliore, 1890): and in the canvases March (1895), Golden Autumn (1895), and Fresh Wind (1895).
The sensation of the dazzling spring sun in March is strikingly realistic. The sun seems to radiate from the yellow walls of the house, to play on the thawed patches of the road. It seems to shine more brightly due to the contrast between the blue shadows and the blinding white snow. Spring brings comfort and warmth to human beings. The door flung open, the horse awaiting its master, the bird-house atop the tree - in this scene, man and nature are one.
In 1895, the artist unexpectedly rediscovered the joys of life. Levitan ceased his philosophical meditations. The melting snow, the blue spring sky, the crimson autumn leaves or a clear, sunny day on the Volga, aroused in him a genuine physical thrill. Levitan sensed the decorative quality of the Russian landscape and its purity of colour which is akin to the local colour of old Russian icon-painting. No longer a young man, the artist again felt a passionate thirst for life and experienced a new joy in living.
In the last years of his life, Levitan's landscapes became more and more refined, laconic and subtle. One researcher accurately called them "songs without words". Chekhov wrote of Levitan's later landscapes: "In his later years, Levitan attained a wonderful simplicity and clarity of motif, such as no one had ever reached before, and I doubt will ever reach again." Indeed, the landscapes painted in 1899 and 1900-Dusk, Last Kays of Sunshine, Summer Evening, Twilight. Haystacks - are most subtle lyric poems. In them, everyday things take on special meaning and "silence becomes audible". Levitan now begins to paint with greater freedom; his paintings gradually become more decorative and bold.
Levitan could not make up his mind to call his last canvas Russia. This was the name he had first thought of. Instead, he called it The Lake. Russia.
Reflected in the huge lake one sees the distant shore, incredibly beautiful, splashed with the crimson and gold of autumn, the houses,
the gleaming white church, the golden, pink and violet clouds, which seem to float on the water. As in the finale of a symphony, all the melodies heard earlier are reiterated and combined. And the motif of the exultation of life is victorious. Herein is the expanse, the grandeur, the sweep of vast spaces flooded by sunlight, the beautiful and powerful picture of Russian nature. This is what the great artist wanted to see and how he actually visualized Russia. The painting was not completed. Illness gradually overtook Levitan. He spent the end of 1899 and the beginning of 1900 as Chekhov's guest at Yalta. At that time Chekhov wrote to his wife: "On my fireplace, he (Levitan) has drawn a moonlit night at harvest time. The moon illuminates the meadow, haystacks and distant woodlands." When Levitan was already in Moscow, Chekhov, perturbed by his friend's condition, wrote: "How is Levitan? I am tortured frightfully by uncertainty. If you have heard anything, please write." On August 4 (July 22 o. s.) 1900, Levitan passed away.
The painter who had done so much for the astounding growth of Russian landscape painting was dead. The purpose of his work, and his association with progressive artists who jointly arranged travelling exhibitions (the so-called "Peredvizhniki") had been to serve the interests of the people. Levitan likewise valued the achievements of European art, especially the Impressionists; he admired the paintings of the Barbizon school, whose subtle poetry in landscape was close to his own. However, in each of his works, Levitan remained a truly Russian painter.
As both artist and teacher, Levitan had a great influence on the development of landscape painting. This was the influence of profound poetry, great art and deep humanity. His art became popular in the broadest sense of the word. This is why the expression "Levitan's scenery" has become a synonym for the Russian landscape.