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Life Is Everywhere, 1888
In this work of Russian realism, Nokolay Yaroshenko features a group of convicted criminals on their way to Siberia. Despite the choice of subject, the painting exudes a warm and compassionate feeling, especially thanks to the central figure of a child leaning out of the train window (prisoners were allowed to take their families with them). The woman holding the child is wearing a black veil that makes her look like Mary. In the Vatican Museums exhibition, this painting is in fact juxtaposed against the icon of the Virgin Kikkotissa, a famous Byzantine icon in which Mary is lovingly holding to Christ child as he reaches for the scriptures she holds in her right hand. The green/blue and red/brown chromatic scheme of the painting is reminiscent of that of the icon, too.

© Courtesy Tretyakov Gallery