Historama, March 17

Legendary arctic explorers and an outstanding painter of a tragic fate are tonight’s Historama heroes.

Most mysterious Russian painter

Mikhail Vrubel, the pioneer of the Symbolist movement in Russia, was born on this day in 1856.

His large painting “The Seated Demon” was so out of line with the realist trends of the day that it brought him notoriety.

While critics of the day slammed his art as “wild ugliness,” famous Russian patron-of-the-arts Savva Mamontov thought it was brilliant and helped Vrubel promote his work.

By 1906, the painter was on the verge of blindness. Suffering from mental illness, he had to give up painting and died four years later.

Read more about Mikhail Vrubel on Russiapedia

274 days of drifting on ice

On this day in 1938, the Kremlin greeted members of first Soviet scientific mission to the North Pole.

The mission began in May 1937 when four scientists accompanied by pilots and a camera crew set up the North Pole 1 station on an ice floe in the Arctic Ocean.

Famous explorer Ivan Papanin led the team, which conducted new research into the geography and climate of the Pole.

The camp ended up drifting almost 2,000 kilometers into the Greenland Sea, where Soviet planes picked up the crew and flew them home.

Read more about this day in Russian history in our “Russia Now” section

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