Find 10 differences: Repin's contemporaries in his portraits and in life
Categories: CultureBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/article/find-10-differences-repins-contemporaries-in-his-portraits-and-in-life.html
Many historical figures are familiar to us only from sculptures and portraits, so we have to judge their appearance by other people's interpretations. Fortunately, there was a short period in history when photography had already appeared and classical painting had not yet become a thing of the past. Let's compare how people looked "in life" and in portraits, using the example of Ilya Repin, one of the greatest portraitists in history, who was also a subtle psychologist.
Leftward: Maxim Gorky and Maria Andreeva pose for Repin. 1905. On the right: a portrait of Maria Andreeva, made by Repin in 1905.
The fatal Maria Fedorovna Andreeva (nee Yurkovskaya) was one of the most famous and influential actresses of the early twentieth century: she helped Stanislavsky open the Moscow Art Theater, charmed Savva Morozov and turned his feelings to financing the needs of the theater and the party. She had known Repin since childhood and at the age of 15 posed for illustrations for Pushkin's "Stone Guest": the artist painted Donna Anna from her.
Even before this portrait was finished, the writer Alexander Kuprin and his wife saw it: they were invited to the workshop to read Gorky's play "Children of the Sun". When Repin asked what Kuprin thought about the painting, he hesitated: "The question took me by surprise. The portrait is unfortunate, he does not look like Maria Fedorovna. This big hat casts a shadow on her face, and then he (Repin) gave her face such a repulsive expression that it seems unpleasant. I felt awkward, couldn't find anything to say right away, and was silent. Repin looked at me carefully and said: "You didn't like the portrait. I agree with you — the portrait is unsuccessful."
Ilya Repin was a friend of the composer Modest Mussorgsky and a fan of his work. He knew about his friend's drunkenness and wrote bitterly about it:
When the artist found out that Mussorgsky was in a serious condition in the hospital, he went to him and in four sessions (from March 2 to March 5, 1881) painted this portrait. According to an eyewitness, he had to work "with all sorts of inconveniences; the painter did not even have an easel, and he had to somehow perch at the table in front of which Mussorgsky was sitting in a hospital chair." 10 days after that, the composer died. The artist refused to pay for the work, donating money for a monument to his late friend.
Repin and Tolstoy was warmly friends for almost 30 years, until the writer's death. Repin created 3 busts of the writer, 12 portraits, 25 drawings, 8 sketches of Tolstoy's family members and 17 illustrations for Tolstoy's works — in watercolor, pen, and pencil. Even after moving to Petersburg, Repin met with Tolstoy every time he came to Moscow. In his memoirs, the artist confessed that in the presence of Lev Nikolaevich, as if hypnotized, he could only obey his will and every position expressed by Tolstoy seemed to him at that moment indisputable. The writer criticized Repin's paintings and suggested details to him, and said admiringly about one of the works: "The skill is such that you can't see the skill!"Tolstoy's eldest daughter Tatiana Sukhotina also visited the artist's house, who also became his model. Tatiana Lvovna was fond of painting and copied the portraits of her father made by Repin (although she did not dare to write a new one). After the revolution, she even opened a drawing studio in Moscow.
Valentin Serov began painting on the recommendation of Repin, at the age of 9, and the accomplished artist studied with a teenager for six years. In Serov's mother Valentina Semyonovna Repin found the features of the proud Princess Sophia Alekseevna. He had long wanted to paint Princess Sophia in prison, but could not find a model, and then he was lucky.
In the painting "Princess Sophia", the artist combined sketch portraits of the translator Blaramberg-Apreleva, the dressmaker and Valentina Serova. It is believed that Sophia has a little portrait resemblance to the artist's mother: it was important for Repin to create a collective image and show the strength of spirit, perseverance and unbroken will of a woman.
Repin repeatedly offered his friend Pavel Tretyakov to pose for his portrait, but the gallery owner did not agree for a long time: he was a closed person and did not want to be recognized. Lost in the crowd of visitors to his exhibitions, he could, without being recognized, hear their sincere feedback. Repin, on the other hand, believed that everyone should know one of the most outstanding cultural figures of the era by sight, and yet persuaded him to take a portrait. The artist depicted a friend in his usual pose, absorbed in his thoughts, in his favorite gallery. Contemporaries called the portrait successful and recognized in it a modest spirited Tretyakov — such as he was in life.
Contemporaries of Alexey Feofilaktovich Pisemsky argued that Repin managed to capture the writer's character very accurately — sarcastic, skeptical, mocking — and that his work went beyond the usual portrait. But the writer's look also shows longing: Repin knew that the writer was unwell and addicted to alcohol, that one of his sons committed suicide, and the second was terminally ill, and showed it in the picture. The portrait was made a year before the writer's death.
The portrait of the artist's eldest daughter Vera in the painting "Autumn Bouquet" is imbued with special tenderness. In a letter to Repin shared with Tatiana Sukhotina (Tolstoy): "I'm starting a portrait of Vera, in the middle of the garden with a large bouquet of coarse autumn flowers, with a boutonniere of thin, elegant ones; in a beret, with an expression of a sense of life, youth, bliss."