Martiros Saryan, Fairy Tale. Garden of Eden. 1904. Watercolor on paper, Saryan Museum, Yerevan, Armenia.
Martiros Saryan (1880–1972) was an Armenian painter trained in Russia at the Moscow School of the Arts from 1897 to 1904. During his training, he was influenced by the work of the French painters Paul Gauguin and Henri Matisse. Fairy Tale, Garden of Eden conveys the influences of French symbolism and fauvism and is particularly indebted to Gauguin’s paintings of French Polynesia from the 1890s. Saryan employs an expressive use of line and color to create an idyllic and primitive vision of the garden of Eden in this watercolor and pencil drawing. A gaggle of geese, a pair of deer, and amorphous whirls of vibrant color draw the eye inward toward the central element of the composition, a tree, which might represent either the tree of knowledge or the tree of life.