Vrubel’s painting is based on the Demon from Mikhail Lermontov’s 1885 poem about a demon in love with a Georgian princess. The demon’s kiss is fatal, yet the princess is saved while the demon is doomed to eternal solitude. Vrubel described the Demon as “A spirit which unites in itself the male and female appearances, a spirit which is not so much evil as suffering and wounded, but withal a powerful and noble being.” He returned to this theme in later paintings.
Another notable work of Russian symbolism. Vrubel worked with a palette-knife that lends the painting its mosaic quality.
Frith described the unfortunate scene depicted in his painting at the 1852 Royal Academy exhibition: ‘Her own statement, as to the origin of the quarrel, was this: That at some ill-chosen time, when she least expected what romancers call a declaration, he made such passionate love to her, that in spite of her utmost endeavours to be angry and look grave, provoked an immediate fit of laughter: from which moment he became her implacable enemy’.