The beginning of the XX century was the crucial moment of the political, social and spiritual life of Russia. The complicated historical processes provoked the appearance of nodiverse forms of the Russian painting.
At the turn of the XIX and XX centuries there was formed the new international style, named Modern in Russia. It was the universal art style, which influenced on all the spheres of art: architecture, graphic, applied art and painting. The traits of the Modern can be found in the creative works by V.A.Serov, V.M.Vasnezov, A.N.Benois, M.A.Vrubel etc. The latter collaborated a lot with the best architect of Russian Modern F.O.Schechtel. They were working together over the decor of Riabouchinsky’s mansion. Some of the members of the art group “World of art” (1898 – 1924) paid tribute to Modern as well. The artists K.A.Somov, L.S.Bakst and M.V.Dobuzhinsky designed in Modern-style some of the issues of the magazine “World of art”.
The typical traits of Modern are the particular smoothness of forms, the stretched figures, distinct contours, decorative colour spots. The effect of three-dimensionality was of minor importance in the painting. In general the depiction looks flat, and sometimes it seems to be a bright carpet, decorated with appliqué.
The relative symbolism and allegory became the main subject of the ornament of Modern. Often the painters used the plant motifs in their works. The stems, leaves and flowers intertwine into the fanciful patterns, in which sometimes there are discernible the figures of women and fantastic animals.
The traits of the national-romantic version of Russian modern were shown in the sketch “The Serpent” by E.D.Polenova. The bright palette, stylized trees and flowers, the girl, dressed in sarafan, and the figure of the serpent are associated with the Russian folk fairy-tales. V.Serov in his “Rape of Europa” appealed to the ancient mythology. The artist used the method of stylization, which is characteristic of Modern. The bright-orange ox stands out against the blue-violet sea, and the combination of these colours creates the immensely expressive palette.