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2014 | 63 | 2 | 191-204

Article title

Archetyp łabędzia w sztuce Michaiła Wrubla


Title variants

Swan Archetypes in the Art of Mikhail Vrubel

Languages of publication



Archetypes in C. G. Jung’s depth psychology, represent the structure of the collective unconscious and stand for a universal way of thinking, feeling and acting, common for all humanity. The author of the article proves that archetypes may be the key to decode the semantic and emotional layers of the symbolic art of Mikhail Vrubel. The Swan is a fine example of the symbolic image of an archetypeal provenience, and is the main theme in such works of Vrubel as, the Swan Princess (1900), or the Swan (1901). In painting a half-woman, half-swan, the artist designed his perfect image of a woman, at the same time going on an inward journey in search of his Anima. The image of the Anima is tempting and encouraging and is the effect of being fascinated by the beauty of a woman’s soul and body, however it may be frightening when transformed into a witch (the meaning of numinosum). The swan-woman image also represents in Vrubel’s work the psycho-philosophical idea of the unity of opposites (darkness – light, good – evil), and the swan-woman herself appears to be the man’s guide to the unconscious, the mystery of life, death and the soul. Also, the male hypostasis of the swan, in Vrubel’s work emerging directly from chaos - the heart of darkness, engages in an interesting psychological discourse with the Anima. The mystical spirituality accompanying the swan’s transformation into the princess is here instead represented by dark matter which is the true cause of the metamorphosis. Finally, the swan transforms into the archetypal image of the ego’s negative side (The Shadow). The swan archetype in Vrubel’s art is the forecast of a demonic possession and an example of a communication breakdown between the artist’s unconscious and his conscious, showing the negative influence of numinosum.









Physical description


  • Instytut Filologii Słowiańskiej Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego, ul. Pocztowa 9, 53-313 Wrocław, Poland


Document Type

Publication order reference


YADDA identifier

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