The story of Natalia Nordman - Ilya Repin's beloved woman, a century ahead of her time

This woman shocked the intelligent society with her behavior and pleased the yellow press with her antics. She was not tolerated, but when there was no news about her for a long time, they began to wonder what had happened. It was she, Natalia Nordman, a writer, eco-activist and feminist, who a hundred years ago lived the way advanced women of the 21st century live, who managed to win the heart of Ilya Repin— the greatest artist and favorite of women, for whose attention the ladies of high society fought.

The story of Natalia Nordman - Ilya Repin's beloved woman, a century ahead of her time

Repin and Nordman first met when Natalia was 30, and the artist was already over 50. Ilya Repin, despite his far from young age, enjoyed great success with women, and Natalia could already be officially considered an old maid by the standards of her time.

The beginning of this novel was unusual, as it was marked by a conflict. Nordman literally infuriated Repin so much in a few minutes that he did not even begin to be interested in her name. Natalia behaved very independently and even defiantly defiant towards the artist, who was already a great figure in the art world and was used to being treated with respect.

The fateful meeting happened when Princess Tenishcheva came to Repin's house, whose companion was Natalia Nordman. Ilya Repin was commissioned to paint a portrait of an aristocrat and the work was going to be long. In order to entertain the ladies somehow, the painter offered to read them the poems of his favorite poets. But Nordman defiantly turned her back on Repin, showing with all her appearance that she was not interested in either the picturesque or declamatory talents of Ilya Yefimovich.

The story of Natalia Nordman - Ilya Repin's beloved woman, a century ahead of her time

The next day Repin wrote a short letter to Tenishcheva, in which there were only a couple of lines:

It's hard to believe that in just a year a woman who could nod her head dismissively to a famous artist, but shook hands with the lackeys, would take such an important place in Repin's life that he would buy her a house on the shore of the Gulf of Finland and count the hours until their meeting in separation.

From the very first days of this novel, Natalia was disliked by numerous friends of Ilya Efimovich. Nordman was too noisy and eccentric to join the company of intellectuals, consisting of writers, artists and scientists. The philosopher Vasily Rozanov called Repin's new lover a "vacuum cleaner woman" because she completely absorbed and enslaved him, and the poet Korney Chukovsky simply believed that Nordman defamed his friend's honest name with his vulgarity.

The story of Natalia Nordman - Ilya Repin's beloved woman, a century ahead of her time

Of course, Repin did not deny himself the pleasure of painting a portrait of his beloved woman. He did it when they were vacationing together in Switzerland. Most of his contemporaries, who knew the artist's civil spouse personally, unanimously declared that he overly idealized her. One of the biographers of the great Russian artist described his impression of this portrait as follows:

Natalia's views on life could be called democratic and feminist. She advocated the "emancipation of servants", so she was the first to greet the doormen and put the cook at the dining table. When the couple first arrived in Moscow, Repin was shocked that his beloved began to shake hands with the servants and congratulate the footmen and maids on Christmas.

The story of Natalia Nordman - Ilya Repin's beloved woman, a century ahead of her time

In her diary Natalia Borisovna wrote that it is impossible to live a life separate from ordinary people:

At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, her ideas seemed, if not seditious, then certainly stupid and ignorant, but Nordman herself was not interested in what others thought about it. Perhaps she was the freest woman in Russia and acted as she saw fit.

The story of Natalia Nordman - Ilya Repin's beloved woman, a century ahead of her time

I. Repin's estate "Penates"

Following the signs, the guest got into the dining room, where there was complete self-service. In the middle of the hall there was a large turning circle, on which there were treats and cutlery. Dirty dishes should be put in a drawer in the far corner. What is not a public canteen of the times of developed socialism?

What attracted Repin to this woman with unusual views on life and numerous quirks? Everyone who knew the artist and his passion intimately claimed that the most outstanding quality of Natalia Nordman was her intelligence. She was an incredibly erudite and very well-read woman, which really "hooked" Repin.

Her hobbies were very advanced and numerous. Natalia Borisovna wrote books under the pseudonym Severova, sang, danced beautifully and seriously studied photography, which at the turn of the century was a real science requiring serious knowledge in the field of chemistry and physics.

The story of Natalia Nordman - Ilya Repin's beloved woman, a century ahead of her time

Nordman also knew several European languages and was so well-versed in law that she lectured on how to conclude marriage contracts correctly. Even here she remained true to her non-standard view of family values - Natalia Borisovna taught the girls to prescribe in the marriage documents a clause according to which the spouse either pays his wife at least a thousand rubles for each birth, or does not require her to have children at all.

Nordman was a vegetarian and infected Repin with her hobby. This moment has long been a cause for jokes in the high society of St. Petersburg and Moscow. But no one was going to give up their positions because of some scoffers — the guests of Repin's house had to be content with treats from vegetable products or dine elsewhere — there were no peddlers for capricious persons here.

The story of Natalia Nordman - Ilya Repin's beloved woman, a century ahead of her time

Gradually, Repin began to be burdened by the society of an eccentric woman. Friends scoffed at them, the artist's family hated her, and the name Nordman and, in connection with her, and the name Repin, were constantly ruffled by tabloid newspapers. When Nordman fell ill with pneumonia and went to bed, she felt that she was no longer interested in her beloved and, most likely, did not need him.

Then Natalia fled from Repin to Switzerland, to a private clinic, without taking any of the artist's gifts with her. Ilya Yefimovich did not take this flight seriously, taking it for another whim of a peculiar woman. Repin sent the woman a large money transfer, but she refused to receive it. Nor did Nordman read the letters that the thoughtful Repin began to write to her one by one:

On June 30, 1914, Natalia Nordman died in a clinic in the Swiss city of Orselina from consumption, which was complicated by advanced pneumonia. Ilya Repin left everything and came to the funeral. After the death of his beloved, the artist lived for another 16 years and he had many beautiful women, but it was Nordman he always considered the love of his life.

Keywords: Vegetarianism | Writer | Servant | Saint Petersburg | Feminism | Artist

Recent articles

16 incredible portraits of American Indians in ritual costumes
16 incredible portraits of American Indians in ritual costumes

Photographer Craig Varjabedian travels through reservations, communicates with Indians and takes a series of pictures that should ...

Full "w": 25 ordinary items that reminded everyone of the fifth point
Full "w": 25 ordinary items that reminded everyone of the ...

A beautiful and fit fifth point fascinates the eyes of not only men, but also women. That's how man works. In short, not everyone ...

Spy stuff of the last century
Spy stuff of the last century

When there were no satellites… In the past, the twentieth century, at a time when satellites were not flying in space, but it was ...

Related articles

Forever alive Arkady Strugatsky
Forever alive Arkady Strugatsky

Arkady Natanovich Strugatsky was born on August 28. For more than a dozen years of creativity in collaboration with his brother, he ...

Chekhov and Lika mizinova: an unusual story of unrequited love classics
Chekhov and Lika mizinova: an unusual story of unrequited ...

The most famous play by Anton Chekhov, no doubt, became "the Seagull". Many people know the plot of the story, but few people know ...

Clean food - clean skin: model cured of eczema by becoming a vegetarian
Clean food - clean skin: model cured of eczema by becoming a ...

A girl from Poland suffered from a severe form of eczema. The condition of her skin was so bad that she exuded the smell of rot. ...