I fell in love with this painting at once! I wish i possessed the right language to explain its effects on me in a way that it makes it justice...but you'll have to suffer a laical exposition! What i love about this painting is the way the atmosphere of lost hope oozes out of it...there is nothing positive about the crossroads the weary knight faces (tombstone, human bones, ravens as carriers of ill omens) and yet there is something oddly beautiful about it - the colours of the setting sun...or may it be the sun is rising, bringing new hope..?
The author of this work is a Russian painter Viktor Vasnetsov (1848-1926) who specialized in mythological and historical subjects. He is considered a key figure of the revivalist movement in Russian art. During his Moscow-stationed period in 1870s he concentrated on illustrating Russian fairy tales and bylinas (oral epic narrative poems) - this painting being among them. As i've found one depiction: 'the knight has stopped at a sign at the roadside which reads 'noone shall walk, ride, or fly this road' - to the hero of an ancient epic poem, such a sign would prove irresistible.'