“THE TALE OF THE WISE AND THE FOOLISH VIRGINS”
In the art of the XVII Century in the decoration of the Royal dwellings and houses of the nobility, picturesque images made, most often, on the themes of biblical history became a novelty. They were made in style of contemporary icon painting on wood and on a new material for that time – canvas.
The composition was painted after the tale of ten virgins, waiting for the arrival of the groom. Five of them were prudent and five were foolish. Smart maidens in addition to oil lamps took vessels with oil. When the groom finally arrived, the oil in the lamps of the foolish virgins was almost gone, and they had to go look for it. The groom entered with reasonable virgins to the wedding feast. When the foolish virgins came back they begged to open the door, but the groom said he did not know them. The tale ends with the words: “watch, therefore, you know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of Man will come.”
The composition clearly conveys to the viewer the meaning of the tale. There are stairs and balconies leading to the doors of the house. The right door is open while the left is closed. The maidens standing on the right wear crowns on their heads and carry burning lamps. The ones on the left maidens simple-haired, with the extinct lamps are represented. In front of the open door is seen the figure of the groom pointing with his hand at the open door, in the other hand he holds – a jug (with oil). The groom in the tale means Christ himself.
Presumably the “Tale” was placed on the doors (on the canvas is a print of the lock). The person who opening the door was kind of requested to think about his spiritual state, because he would also come in his time to the door to the Kingdom of Heaven. Artifacts of this kind are extremely rare in Museum collections.