What is true and what is fiction in the story of a loving artist and a million red roses
Alla Pugacheva’s song “a Million red roses”, created by Raymond Pauls based on poems by Andrey Voznesensky, tells about the love of a poor artist for an actress. The plot of the song is based on the true story of the Georgian artist Niko Pirosmani, who fell in love with the French actress Marguerite de Sevre.
About the artist
Niko Pirosmani is a primitive artist, self-taught and a real nugget from the people, whose fame spread throughout Georgia after his death. Niko Pirosmani was born in the Georgian village of Mirzaani in a peasant family. His parents were farmers who owned a small vineyard and cattle. The future artist was orphaned early and left in the care of his two older sisters Mariam and Pepe, with whom he moved to live in Tbilisi in 1870. In 1872, while living in a small apartment near the Tbilisi railway station, he worked as a servant in rich families and learned to read and write in Russian and Georgian. Later, he worked as a cattleman, conductor, supported himself by odd jobs and dreamed of opening a painting workshop to earn a living by what he loved. But customers did not rush to it. Pirosmani did not have a permanent job. It was said of Nico that he lived “like a bird”, not caring about the past or the future. The artist tirelessly painted pictures and sold them for such a small sum that it did not even cover the cost of paint. One paid 30 rubles for his picture, and the other he could draw a sign for lunch. It was difficult for him to find his place in life.
Pirosmani painted still lifes depicting wine, shashlik and Georgian bread, scenes of merry feasts, as well as animals and trees. There were also people of various classes in his paintings – farmers, merchants, artisans, priests and princes. But more than that, Niko liked ordinary people. Therefore, he filled his works with genre scenes of peasant life. Pirosmani worked as naturally as he breathed. His naive, kind, artless paintings have a saving effect on the senses, restore confidence in the world and children’s faith in magic. He was not a professional artist and did not try to compose a composition – in his paintings, things exist as if by themselves, causing a sense of loneliness. The color palette of Pirosmani’s works is dark, and even large scenes are permeated with an atmosphere of alienation and longing.
Niko Pirosmani has never had any personal happiness and every work of his, where he portrayed festive food or people, contains hidden deep feelings. This is both joy and pain. Both happiness and sadness. Pirosmani himself once said that everyone has their own reasons for being sad and it makes no sense to compare whose sadness is greater. Pirosmani is today one of the most beloved artistic figures in the country. Every city has its own genius. In Tbilisi, this is undoubtedly Niko Pirosmani.
When a Georgian is asked about Niko Pirosmani, he almost screams:
— Who doesn’t know a great self-taught artist?! He is the symbol of Georgia, our van Gogh!
And having fished out a 1-gel bill from the bundle of money, he explains fervently:
– Look, on the front side — the handsome Pirosmani himself, on the back-his
favorite old Tiflis and a DOE from his painting. Every Georgian “Pirosmani” in
the pocket has…
Love and ” a Million red roses»
Even those people who have never seen his works have probably heard the legend about how once Pirosmani sold all his property to buy all the flowers in Tbilisi for the woman he loved. So who was the one for whom the artist spent the rest of his days in poverty?
The story of his love for Marguerite de Sevre, a French dancer and singer who once came to Georgia on tour, became a symbol of unrequited and deep love. The plot of the romantic story that formed the basis of the famous song “a Million red roses” by Alla Pugacheva was first described by Konstantin Paustovsky from the words of the Zdanevich brothers (these are the first collectors of Pirosmani paintings). The artist’s feelings were painful and overwhelming, and the girl did not share Nico’s feelings. She ignored his numerous advances. Her heart was stale, even after Nico had painted a portrait of her (“the Actress Margarita”).
According to legend, on his birthday, Pirosmani sold all his property, which he had earned with difficulty (a tea house) and used the money to buy all the flowers in the city. Pirosmani sent nine carts of flowers to the house of Marguerite de Sevres. According to legend, the actress was really impressed by the sea of flowers she saw, but when she went outside, she just kissed the artist on the lips and left. There was no miracle. But historians say that they never met. Niko sent her flowers and went out with his friends.
The future fate of Pirosmani was sad: after the story with flowers, he finally became impoverished, moved to dukhany. I drew on whatever I had to – on the walls, on tin cans, cardboard, table oilcloths. The artist died of hunger and cold in April 1918, when he was 56 years old. Fame came to Niko Pirosmani after his death.
In 1968, the Louvre hosted an exhibition of paintings by Niko Pirosmani, who had been dead for 50 years. They say that an elderly woman stood in front of the portrait of the actress Margarita for a long time. Eyewitnesses claim that it was the same Marguerite de Sevres. There is even a photograph of an aged Margarita posing next to a portrait by Pirosmani. And the act of the artist still inspires people of creativity.