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The painting was released in 1889.
The title of the picture is given by its source - the figures depicted are characters in a literary work. The romantic poem of M. Yu. Lermontov “Demon” was the primary principle for the artist in creating an expressive artistic composition.
The images are inspired by the lines of the poem, on the canvas - an episode of the meeting of Tamara with the winged youth, "the spirit of exile."
A pale face, an unusual robe, powerful wings - everything speaks of an unearthly character. The young man is “devilishly” handsome - delicate facial features, expressive curvature of eyebrows, straight nose, pursed thin lips. He watches the last minutes of Tamara’s earthly life, her soul is already leaving her body.
The appearance of the young demon is not at all threatening and terrible - he sympathizes with the dying girl. Perhaps the young ambassador of the underworld first encountered the death of an earthly man so close, moreover, not a simple person - this is her, Tamara, the Demon promised to make "the queen of the world." And then it was all over: the girl was left with strength, she imploredly stretched out clenched hands in a wordless prayer for higher powers. But supplications are not destined to be heard - the messenger of the haze observes the last look of half-open eyes, fading breath. Faces on the icons, lit by a lamp, silently watch what is happening. Gloomy night background is in tune with what is happening.
The picture is often compared with the more famous painting by Mikhail Vrubel on a similar plot. However, a significant difference between the embodiment of demonic power is noticeable: the Vrubel character inspires fear, his dark figure is displayed in the center of the composition, he is the main face of the plot. Makovsky’s demon is more like an ordinary young man, it shows quite human emotions. The image of Tamara is also solved in different ways: the Vrubel heroine does not see the face of the viewer, her feelings and emotions are hidden by the artist, this is a secondary character. Makovsky pays equal attention to his heroes - their faces are open, what is happening is easy to read without words.
High mastery of the embodiment of literary characters was highly appreciated - in 1889, the painting "Tamara and the Demon" was awarded the Big Gold Medal at the World Exhibition in Paris.