It is not possible to eat me without insisting that I sing praises of my devourer?
the darling Fyodor Dostoevsky
Some hungry appropriations have been spawned from the original painting "Ivan the Terrible and his son Ivan on Friday, 16 November 1581", or as it is better known, "Ivan the Terrible" by Russian artist Ilya Repin.
Or as the Russian has it, Ivan groznyi, "Ivan the Magnificent" or "Ivan the Awesome". The epithet should be associated with power rather than horror, though madness, cruelty and a fair shock of hairy morals are crammed into the first Tsar's footnotes. Ivan, devout, intelligent and suffering episodes of rage, oversaw the transition of Russia from medieval nation state to an empire.
But Ivan IV was apparently cruel, and so was his son. At fifteen the young boy accompanied his father during the Massacre of Novgorod and spent 5 weeks there, watching the terrible beauty of death. His favoured son and heir, Tsarevich Ivan Ivanovich once saved his father's life from an assassination attempt by a Livonian prisoner, stabbing said criminal to death. As a young man, the Tsarevich had over 12 marriage suitors but his father played a major hand in the rejection and ofttimes banishment of all of them. Two he actually married but, deemed infertile by the Tsar, they were sent to a convent. A strange relationship had developed between the two men, who swapped lovers and enjoyed being co-onlookers to torture.
Beauty is mysterious as well as terrible.
God and devil are fighting there,
and the battlefield is the heart of man.
encore m. Fyodor
Things started to sour. In 1581, already in savage disagreement over their differing convictions in the later stages of the Livonian War (present-day Estonia and Latvia), Ivan the Terrible physically assaulted the Tsarevich’s pregnant wife. She suffered a miscarriage. Ivan Ivanovich took to his father angrily; “You sent my first wife to a convent for no reason, you did the same with my second, and now you strike the third, causing the death of the son she holds in her womb.” A confrontation ensued, ending with a scepter wound to the head of the heir. The terrible Ivan fell to his knees and cradled his son, kissing his face and crying “May I be damned! I’ve killed my son! I’ve killed my son.” The Tsarevich died as, in his final words, “a devoted son and most humble servant.” The Tsardom was eventually passed to the younger son, always thought of as week and often as mentally retarded. Russia was heading for The Time of Troubles.
The pixel and oil renditions that most keep me warm at night are Ivan the Terrible killing Marat, R2D2, Kenny, and Malevich's black square.