Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoy (1837-1887) Automatic translate
Throughout his life, Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoy tried to turn art face to life so that it became an effective tool for its active knowledge. An outstanding artist, who played a huge role in the formation of the national school of painting, led the famous "riot of fourteen", stood at the head of the Artel of Artists and the Association of Wanderers, was one of those whose life and work invariably served to affirm the most revolutionary, most advanced ideas of his time.
Keen sense of life
Ivan Nikolaevich wrote in his biography: “I was born in 1837, on May 27 (according to the senior art. V.V.), in the county town of Ostrogozhsk, Voronezh province., In the suburban settlement of Novaya Sotna, from parents assigned to the local philistinism. 12 years old, I lost my father, a very severe man, as I recall. My father served in the city duma, if I am not mistaken, as a journalist (that is, a clerk — V. R.); my grandfather, according to the stories… was also some sort of clerk in Ukraine. My genealogy does not rise further. ”
In his declining years, the artist ironically noted that something “of a kind” came out of him. In his autobiography, some bitterness is felt, but at the same time the legitimate pride of a man who has escaped from the "lower classes" and has become in line with the most prominent figures of his time. The painter wrote about how he strove to get an education all his life, but he managed to finish only the Ostrogozh district school, although he became the "first student" there. “… I have never been so envious of anyone… as a truly educated person,” notes Kramskoy, mentioning that after training he became the same clerk in the city duma as his father was.
The young man early became interested in art, but the first person to notice and support this was the local amateur artist and photographer Mikhail Borisovich Tulinov, to whom Kramskoy was grateful for his whole life. For some time he studied icon painting, then, at the age of sixteen, he “had the opportunity to escape from a county town with a Kharkov photographer.” The future artist traveled with him “a large half of Russia for three years, as a retoucher and watercolorist. It was a harsh school… ". But this "severe school" brought Kramskoy considerable benefit, tempered his will and formed a persistent character, only reinforcing his desire to become an artist.
Judging by his diary entries, the young Ivan Kramskoy was an enthusiastic young man, but in 1857 a man had already arrived in Petersburg who knew very well what he wanted and how to achieve it. The beginning of the independent path of the future painter took a difficult time for the whole of Russia. The Crimean War has just ended, having marked the crushing military and political defeat of the autocracy, at the same time awakening the public consciousness of both progressive people and the broad masses of the people.
Monolith of the Imperial Academy
The abolition of hated serfdom was just around the corner, and progressive Russia not only lived on the expectation of future changes, but also contributed to them in every way. The alarm of the Herzen “Bell” sounded powerfully, the young revolutionaries-raznochintsy, headed by N. G. Chernyshevsky, prepared themselves for the struggle for the liberation of the people. And even so far from practical life, the sphere of "high" art succumbed to the charm of the wind of change.
If serfdom was the main brake on the development of all aspects of society, the stronghold of conservatism in the field of art was created in the middle of the 18th century by the imperial Academy of Arts. Being the conductor of official doctrines and esthetic principles that had already outlived herself, she did not allow the area of the “beautiful” to have anything in common with real reality. But her students in the second half of the 50s - beginning of the 60s, more and more definitely felt that life makes completely different demands on art. Significant words of N. G. Chernyshevsky “beauty is life” became a programmatic setting for all progressive Russian intelligentsia and young figures of the nascent Russian democratic art. They then brought new public moods to the Academy of Arts, established close ties with students of the University, the Medical and Surgical Academy, in which the heroes of the novel Chernyshevsky “What should I do?” Dmitry Lopukhov and Alexander Kirsanov, both typical raznochintsy, peers I. Kramsky studied.
Arriving in St. Petersburg, Ivan Nikolaevich already enjoyed the fame of an excellent retoucher, which opened the door for him in the studio of the best metropolitan photographers I.F. Alexandrovsky and A.I. Dener. But the career of a successful artisan could not satisfy him. Kramskoy more and more persistently thought about entering the Academy of Arts.
Kramskoi’s drawings immediately received the approval of the Academy Council, and in the fall of 1857 he already became a student of Professor A… T. Markov. So his cherished dream came true, and I must say that he studied Kramskoy very diligently, worked hard on the drawing, whose culture was very high at the Academy, he successfully worked on sketches for historical and mythological subjects, receiving all the awards.
But the young painter did not feel genuine satisfaction. A thoughtful, well-read man, he more and more definitely felt a fundamental discord between old art doctrines and real life. Just a few months after Kramsky’s admission to the Academy, the work of A. A. Ivanov “The Appearance of Christ to the People” was brought to Italy from Petersburg. The artist’s return to Russia after almost thirty years of absence, the sudden death that followed, the impression that his contemporaries made, which became the main work of the great master’s life, played a huge role in shaping the consciousness of the nascent advanced part of the Russian intelligentsia.
The Riot of Fourteen
Best of all, the rebellion of 14 was told by Ivan Kramskoy himself in a letter to his old friend M. B. Tulinov: “My dear Mikhail Borisovich! Attention! The following circumstance happened at the Academy on November 9, that is, last Saturday: 14 of the students submitted a request for the issuance of diplomas for the title of class artists. At first glance there is nothing surprising.
People are free, free-coming students, can, when they want to leave classes. But the fact of the matter is that these 14 are not ordinary students, but people who have to write for the first gold medal. It was like this: a month before now, we submitted a request for permission to choose a plot, but we refused our request… and decided to give a story to historians and a plot to genre writers who had originally chosen their own plots. On the day of the competition, November 9th, we are in the office and decided to go up together to the Council and find out what the Council decided. And therefore, to the inspector’s question: which of us are historians and who are genre writers? we, so that everyone could enter the conference room together, answered that we were all historians. Finally, they call in the face of the Council to listen to the task. We enter. F.F. Lvov read to us the story: “Feast in Valhalla” - from Scandinavian mythology, where heroes knights fight forever, where God Odin presides, he has two ravens on his shoulders, and two wolves at his feet, and finally, somewhere in the heavens, between the columns, a month driven by a monster in the form of a wolf, and many other nonsense. After that, Bruni got up, coming to us to explain the plot, as is always the case. But one of us, namely Kramskoy, separates herself and says the following: “We ask permission to say a few words in the face of the Council” (silence, and all eyes glared at the speaker). “We filed a request twice, but the Council did not find it possible to fulfill our request; "we, not considering ourselves in the right to insist anymore and not daring to think about changing academic decisions, ask us to humbly free us from participating in the competition and give us diplomas for the title of artists."
A few moments - silence. Finally, Gagarin and Tone make sounds: “is that all?”. We answer: “everything”, and we leave, and in the next room we give petitions to the case manager… And on the same day Gagarin asked Dolgorukov in a letter so that nothing would appear in the literature without previewing him (Gagarin). In a word, we put it in a quandary. So, we cut off our own retreat and do not want to return, and may the Academy be healthy by its centenary. Everywhere we find sympathy for our action, so one, sent from writers, asked me to tell him the words that I said in the Council for publication. But we are silent for now. And since we still held hands tightly, so that we would not be lost, we decided to hold on to form an artistic association, that is, to work together and live together. I ask you to tell me your advice and thoughts regarding the practical structure and general rules suitable for our society… And now it seems to us that this matter is possible. Our range of actions has an embrace: portraits, iconostases, copies, original paintings, drawings for publications and lithographs, wood drawings, in a word, everything related to our specialty… Here is a program that is far from clear as you see… ".
In this letter, the artist not only reveals the ups and downs of the confrontation between young artists and the Academy, but also sees prospects for the future, which are not yet fully clear, but very bold and not limited to the selfish goals of their own survival. After this incident, covert police surveillance was established over Kramskoi and his comrades, which lasted for many years. Here are the names of fourteen participants in the “riot”: painters I. Kramskoy, A. Morozov, F. Zhuravlev, M. Peskov, B. Wenig, P. Zabolotsky, N. Shustov, A. Litovchenko, N. Dmitriev, A. Korzukhin, A Grigoriev, N. Petrov, K. Lemoh and sculptor V. Kreitan.
All of them were ordered to urgently release the workshops, but the youth, left without a livelihood, still won a major victory, the significance of which at that time could hardly be understood. This was the first conquest of Russian democratic realistic art. Soon, Kramskoy, together with like-minded people, began the practical implementation of his idea - the creation of the first independent "art association" - Artels of Artists.
Kramskoy eyes Repin
After being expelled from the Academy, Kramskoy arranged to teach at the school of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, among the students of which “was a talented young man who had just arrived in St. Petersburg from Ukraine”, just as Kramskoy himself had once dreamed of entering the Academy of Arts - Ilya Repin.
Ilya Efimovich himself describes his first meeting with Kramskoy as follows: “This is Sunday, twelve o’clock in the afternoon. There is a lively excitement in the class, Kramskoy is not there. We draw from the head of Milon Krotonsky… In the classroom it is noisy… Suddenly there was complete silence… And I saw a thin man in a black frock coat, entering with a firm gait into the classroom. I thought it was someone else: I imagined Kramskoy differently. Instead of a beautiful pale profile, this one had a thin cheeky face and black smooth hair instead of chestnut curls to the shoulders, and only students and teachers have such a shabby, fluid beard. - Who is this? I whisper to a friend. - Kramskoy! Don’t you know? he wonders. So here he is!.. Now he looked at me; seems to have noticed. What eyes! Do not hide, even though they are small and sit deep in sunken orbits; gray, glow… What a serious face! But the voice is pleasant, sincere, speaks with emotion… But they also listen to it! They even abandoned their work, they stand around with their mouths open; it’s obvious that they are trying to remember every word. ”
Repin, like many Russian artists (Kramskoy himself wrote great, just like Perov), Repin turned out to be a talented writer. In his essay “Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoy (In Memory of the Teacher)”, with his inherent impulsiveness, he creates a very lively, expressive literary portrait. “Kramskoy’s pages on Repin’s pages are all in motion, in struggle, it’s not a frozen wax figure of a panopticon, it’s precisely the hero of a fascinating story rich in episodes,” K. Chukovsky wrote later.
Repin created an image that almost to the smallest detail coincides with the Self-Portrait, written by Kramsky in 1867 and characterized by an unusually objective characterization. In the picture, nothing distracts us from the main thing - the face of the hero, with a strict, penetrating gaze of gray eyes. Mind, will, restraint - these are the main personality traits of the artist, which are clearly visible in the canvas. Proud self-esteem is manifested without drawing or posing. Everything is simple and natural in the external appearance of the painter and in his own way harmoniously in the internal. The color of the portrait is almost monochrome, the brushstroke is dynamic, before us is the recognized head of the first St. Petersburg Artel of Artists.
Creation of Artel
On the facade of house number 2/10, standing on the corner of Mayorov Avenue and Admiralteysky Prospekt in St. Petersburg, there is a memorial plaque with the inscription: “In this house, from 1866 to 1870, a major Russian artist Ivan Kramskoy lived and worked. The Artel organized by him, uniting the leading realist artists of the 60s, was located here. ” But in reality, the Artel of Artists did not immediately acquire a room in the center of the capital, not far from Palace Square.
It all began much more modestly. Remembering the organization of Artel, Kramskoy wrote to Stasov before his death: “… then it was necessary first of all to eat and eat, since all 14 people had two chairs and one three-legged table. Those who had at least something had disappeared immediately. ” “After much deliberation,” Repin wrote, “they came to the conclusion that it is necessary to arrange, with the permission of the government, the Artel of Artists - a kind of art firm, workshop and office accepting orders from the street, with a sign and an approved charter. They rented a large apartment in the Seventeenth line of Vasilievsky Island and moved (most of them) to live there together. And then they immediately came to life, cheered up. A common large bright room, comfortable rooms for everyone, their own household, which was conducted by Kramskoy’s wife, all this encouraged them. Life has become more fun, and some orders have appeared. Society is power. ” So there was the first association of artists organized by Kramskoy. It allowed many talented artists not only to survive, but to achieve success, recognition and financial independence, which, in the end, caused further complete disintegration of the organization.
Personal life and interest in psychology
Ivan Nikolaevich was always sure that his chosen one would be his faithful girlfriend, would share with him all the hardships of the artist’s life. Sofya Nikolaevna, who became his wife, fully realized his dreams of personal happiness. In one of the artist’s letters to his wife, we read: “… you not only do not bother me being an artist and comrade of my comrades, but even as if you yourself have become a true artisan…”. Kramskoy repeatedly painted portraits of Sofia Nikolaevna. And although it would be too bold to call her the “muse” of the artist, she was undoubtedly the ideal of a woman for him. The best confirmation of this is her images created in portraits of the 60s. The common features for all the paintings are the integrity, independence and pride of their heroine, allowing them to see in her a “new woman”, who at the same time has not lost her true femininity, poetry and gentleness.
These qualities are especially noticeable in her graphic portrait, belonging to the Tretyakov Gallery (1860s). A young, charming and gentle woman with a strong-willed character, as we are told by an energetic head turn and a strict, but open look.
The painting "Reading. Portrait of S. N. Kramskoy ”, painted in 1863, reminds us of the lyrical female portraits of the early 19th century. The color of the picture is based on a combination of shades of light green, lilac and other delicate colors. A large role in the canvas is played by the landscape and the few, carefully selected accessories that help convey the obvious attractiveness of the portrait’s heroine. A young couple of Kramskys was captured in 1865 by their mutual friend "artisan" N. A. Koshelev. In the picture “Kramskoy with his wife” we see a lyrical sketch: Sofia Nikolaevna plays the piano, while Ivan Nikolaevich fell into thought to the accompaniment of her music.
In the 60s, Kramskoy created many graphic portraits of his friends: N. A. Koshelev, spouses Dmitriev-Orenburg, M. B. Tulinov, I. I. Shishkin, more and more strengthening their psychologism. True, the rapidly developing photograph, it would seem, began to supplant the artistic graphic and expensive pictorial portraits. It seemed that the camera was available absolutely everything that he could not only accurately capture the appearance of the posing, but also advantageously emphasize the necessary details of the costume, rich atmosphere, jewelry, etc. But, as time has shown, he couldn’t do one thing - look inside a person, give him a certain social and psychological assessment. This remained achievable only in the portrait created by the artist.
It was this - the improvement of the psychological portrait - that many masters, including N.N. Ge, V.G. Perov and I.N. Kramskoy. The powerful rise of the Russian realistic portrait coincided with the beginning of the era of Wanderer and the end of the Artel era, which lost its original meaning in time.
Partnership of the Wanderers
The great idea of creating the TPHV, which played a large role in the life of Russian art, belonged to a group of prominent Moscow and St. Petersburg artists, and the famous genre writer G. G. Myasoedov was the direct initiator of the initiative. He wrote a letter to Artel, meeting there with support only from individual members, primarily - I.N. Kramskoy.
In toga, in 1870, an organization was created that could free Russian democratic art from state guardianship, rally leading artists around an association based on the principle of personal material interest of all its members. The main objective of the Partnership was the development of art. The practice of traveling exhibitions opened up the possibility of direct communication between artists and a wide audience, while raising the most pressing issues of our time.
Over the course of several decades, P.M. acquired many of the best works of the Wanderers in his collection. Tretyakov. November 28 (December 12, according to the new style), 1871, the first exhibition of the Partnership was held in St. Petersburg. It should be noted that it was to Kramsky, a man of extremely firm principles and convictions, that the created Partnership of Traveling Art Exhibitions was obliged to very soon outgrow the tasks of the exhibition organization and become a genuine school of advanced Russian art.
Ivan Nikolayevich himself, organizing the Partnership and guiding his creative life, found in him that "breeding ground" that allowed him to reach his own artistic heights. The heyday of the Association of Wanderers coincided with the heyday of the work of Kramskoy, and as a painter, and as a critic-publicist, author of a number of very serious articles in which he expressed his thoughts about the fate of art and its high social mission.
In numerous letters to various people, one can read many interesting comments by Kramskoy about the great masters of the past and contemporary Russian and European artists. The most remarkable moment in the artist’s critical reasoning was that he wrote them not so much to teach others how to express that huge and continuous internal work that was carried out in himself.
Kramskoy, in his aesthetic views, was a consistent supporter of the teachings of the great democrats V.G. Belinsky and N.G. Chernyshevsky. He wrote, believing that only life itself can be the basis of artistic creation: “It is bad when art becomes a legislator!.. The serious interests of the people should always go ahead of the less significant.”
Kramskoy argued that “art cannot be any other than national. Nowhere and never was there any other art, and if the so-called universal human art exists, it is only due to the fact that it was expressed by a nation that stood in front of universal human development. And if ever in the distant future Russia is destined to occupy such a position between peoples, then Russian art, being deeply national, will become universal. ”
Image of Christ
During the heyday of the Impressionist art in France, Repin, who was in Paris and admired their work, wrote that “we”, i.e. Russians, "a completely different people, in addition, in development (artistic. - V.R.) we are in an earlier phase." In response to Kramskoy’s remark that Russian artists should finally “move to the light, to the colors,” Repin says: “… our task is content. The face, the soul of man, the drama of life, the impressions of nature, its life and meaning, the spirit of history - these are our themes… our colors are an instrument, they must express our thoughts, our color is not elegant spots, it must express the mood of the picture, her soul, he must position and capture the entire audience, like a chord in music. ”
It should be noted that similar ideas were expressed by many figures of Russian culture from F.M. Dostoevsky to M.P. Mussorgsky. They were directly embodied in the works of I.N. Kramskoy.
The most important work in the artist’s work was the painting “Christ in the Desert” (1872) shown at the second exhibition of the Association of Wanderers (1872), the idea of which arose long ago. The artist said that she became the repository of the most important ideas for him: “Under the influence of a number of impressions, a very heavy sensation of life settled in me. I see clearly that there is one moment in the life of every person, created in the slightest bit in the image and likeness of God, when he finds reflection on it - whether to go right or left?.. We all know how such an oscillation usually ends. Expanding the thought further, embracing humanity in general, I, from my own experience, from my little original, and only from it alone, can guess the terrible drama that was played out during historical crises.And now I have a terrible need to tell others what I think. But how to tell? How, in what way can I be understood? By the nature of nature, the language of the hieroglyph is most accessible to me. And then I once… I saw a figure sitting in deep thought… His thought was so serious and deep that I made him constantly in one position… It became clear to me that he was busy with an important issue for him, so important that he is insensitive to terrible physical fatigue… Who was it?that he is insensitive to terrible physical fatigue… Who was it?that he is insensitive to terrible physical fatigue… Who was it? I dont know.In all likelihood, it was a hallucination; I really must not have seen him. It seemed to me that this is best suited to what I wanted to tell. Then I didn’t even need to invent anything, I just tried to copy. And when he finished, he gave him a daring name. But if I could, at the time when I watched him, write it, is it Christ? I do not know…".
We can judge how long and hard the artist worked on creating that very “correct” image by the huge number of drawings and sketches made in preparation for the main work. The significance of this picture for Kramskoy can be judged by the fact that he continued to finish his work even after it was posted in the Tretyakov Gallery.
The artist depicted Christ sitting on gray, cold stones, the desert soil is dead, it seems that Jesus wandered to where the human foot had not yet stepped. A delicate balance of the level of the horizon dividing the work space in half, His figure simultaneously dominates the space of the canvas, drawing a clear silhouette against the sky, and is in harmony with the earthly world depicted on the canvas. It only helps the artist deepen the inner drama of his hero. There is no action in the picture, but the viewer seems to feel the life of the spirit, the work of the thoughts of the son of God, solving for himself some important issue.
His legs are wounded on sharp stones, the figure is bent, his hands are painfully clenched. Meanwhile, the emaciated face of Jesus not only conveys his suffering, but in spite of everything, expresses tremendous willpower, boundless fidelity to the idea to which he subordinated his whole life.
“He sat so when the sun was still in front of him, sat tired, exhausted, at first he watched the sun, then did not notice the night, and at dawn, when the sun should rise behind him, he continued to sit motionless. And you can’t say that he was completely insensitive to sensations: no, he, under the influence of the onset of morning cold, instinctively pressed his elbows closer to his body, and only, however, his lips seemed to dry out, stuck together from a long silence, and only his eyes betrayed the inner work, although they did not see anything… ".
The author addresses his contemporaries, raising in this work great and eternal universal human problems, posing before them the difficult question of choosing a life path. In Russia at that time there were many people who were ready to sacrifice themselves for the sake of truth, goodness and justice. Young revolutionaries, who soon became heroes of many works of democratic literature and painting, were preparing for “going to the people”. The close connection between Kramskoy’s paintings and life was obvious, but the artist wanted to create a work program: “And so, this is not Christ, that is, I do not know who it is. This is an expression of my personal thoughts. Which moment? Transition. What follows this? Continued in the next book. " The very “next book” was supposed to be the canvas “Laughter” (“Rejoice, king of the Jews!”, 1877-1882).
In 1872, Kramskoy wrote to F. A. Vasiliev: “We must also write“ Christ ”, we certainly need to, that is, not actually him, but that crowd that laughs at the top of their lungs, with all the forces of their huge animal lungs… This laughter I’ve been haunted for so many years now. It’s not so hard that it’s hard, but it’s hard that they laugh. ” Christ before the crowd, ridiculed, spat upon, but "he is calm as a statue, pale as a canvas." “While we are not seriously chatting about goodness, honesty, we are all in harmony, try to seriously implement Christian ideas in life, see how laughter rises around. This laughter haunts me everywhere, wherever I go, everywhere I hear him. ”
“Seriously pursuing Christian ideas” for the artist did not mean at all to affirm the dogmas of official Orthodoxy, it was a desire to advocate genuine morality, humanity. The main character of "Laughter" was the personification of not only the ideas of Kramskoy himself, it summarized the thoughts of many honestly thinking representatives of that time, who, a direct encounter with rudeness, all-destructive cynicism, greed, clearly demonstrated that abstract good simply could not defeat real real evil.
In the life of Kramskoy, in the middle of his life, there was a certain drama related to the one that Ivanov was experiencing at the end of his journey. The artist began to think that the creative failure that had befallen him (the work “Laughter” was never completed) is a consequence of the erroneousness of his chosen ideological position as a whole. These doubts were generated by the utopian maximalism characteristic of many of the best representatives of the Russian intelligentsia. The artist managed to solve the difficult task, which he tried in vain in the form of a cycle of works about Christ, in his magnificent portraits of the 70-80s, embodying in his large gallery of images of advanced Russian writers, scientists, artists and stage figures personalities of high moral appearance.
In the same 70s, Kramskoy writes a number of lyrical works not peculiar to him earlier, a vivid example of which is the painting “Inspection of the Old House” (1873), which tells about the abandoned and collapsing “noble nest”, to which its owner returned, after many years of absence. “The old thoroughbred gentleman, a bachelor,” finally “comes to his family estate after a long, very long time and finds the estate in ruins: the ceiling collapsed in one place, everywhere there is cobweb and mold, a number of portraits of ancestors are on the walls. Two female personalities lead him under his arms… Behind them - the buyer - a fat merchant… ".
We see an elderly man slowly moving along the enfilade of rooms of an abandoned family estate. So he entered the living room, hung with portraits of his ancestors darkened from time to time, saw antique furniture in gray canvas covers, it seems that even the air in this old house is painted in smoky-dusty tones, time has stopped here, and the timid light from the windows is not able to dispel this haze of the past.
As N.A. mentioned in his letters Mudrogel - one of the oldest employees of the Tretyakov Gallery, most likely "in the picture" Inspection of the old house "Kramskoy portrayed himself." The evidence of a contemporary is of undoubted interest, although, even if this is true, the artist did not just try on this sad lyrical situation. Kramskoy invested in his image created a broad poetic and deep social significance.
As you know, the picture remained unfinished. Perhaps Kramskoy, as an active, active, purely “public” person, simply did not allow himself to relax, go into the lyrical channel, overcoming this weakness in himself, in order to work on works of a completely different social significance, more important, in his opinion, in conditions of a difficult socio-artistic situation in Russia in the 1870s. “In essence, I never loved portraits, and if I did it tolerably, it was only because I loved and love the human physiognomy… I became a portrait painter by necessity,” wrote Ivan Nikolaevich. It is obvious, however, that just “necessity” alone could not have made him an outstanding master of portraiture.
Portrait of Tolstoy
The need to prove that, according to the ideas of Chernyshevsky, “the human person is the highest beauty in the world, accessible to our senses,” aroused in Kramskoy a keen interest in “human physiognomy”. Thanks to the artist’s interest in reflecting the human soul, portraits created by the master in this era were an invaluable contribution to Russian fine art of the 1860s and 80s.
“The portraits that you now have,” I.E. Repin wrote to him in 1881, “represent the faces of the dear nation, its best sons, who brought positive benefits to their selfless activities, to the benefit and prosperity of their native land, who believed in its better future and fighting for this idea… ”Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoy became one of the founders of the gallery of portraits, thanks to which we can now see the faces of people who played a huge role in the history and art of Russia. Among the first of them was Leo Tolstoy, whose first portraits were painted by Kramskoy.
To get a portrait of the great Russian writer in the collection was Tretyakov’s cherished dream, but so far no one has managed to persuade Lev Nikolaevich to pose. On the other hand, there was Kramskoy, who tried to persuade the collector to help the young talented artist F.A. Vasiliev, who was dying in the Crimea from consumption. As a result, in 1873 Kramskoy, in order to pay Tretyakov’s debt for Vasiliev, persuaded Tolstoy to pose for him for two portraits: one was intended for a collector, the second for the writer’s house in Yasnaya Polyana.
Ivan Nikolaevich worked on both canvases in parallel, while trying to avoid absolute identity. As a result, the writer’s family chose a portrait with a more intimate interpretation of Lev Nikolaevich, in which he is immersed in himself. Tretyakov got a portrait in which the writer, as it were, addresses the viewer. So the artist managed to simultaneously create two fundamentally different artistic images.
Both portraits have a number of common features. Firstly, a neutral background, due to which the location of the figure in space ceases to play any role. Secondly, the hands of the model are written out only in general terms. Thirdly, the artist deliberately avoided expressive picturesqueness in color. Such restraint of the plastic decision made it possible to transfer all attention to the face of the forty-five-year-old Tolstoy - open, simple, framed by a broad beard and a manly cut hair.
The main thing in the created portraits is the eyes of the writer, expressing the intense work of the thoughts of an intelligent and educated person. From the picture of Kramskoy, Tolstoy looks at us “adamantly and sternly, even coldly… not allowing himself to forget at least for a moment about his task of observation and analysis. He becomes a scientist, and his subject is the human soul, ”the prominent Soviet art critic D.V. Sarabyanov described his impression. It was the comprehension of Tolstoy’s powerful intellect that became the main goal and, of course, represented the main difficulty that the artist encountered in this work.
Portraits of the great
Kramskoy painted many portraits commissioned by Tretyakov, paying tribute to this outstanding person. So in 1871, the artist writes from photographs a portrait of the great Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko. And in the winter of 1876, Ivan Nikolaevich became especially close to the family of the collector, working on portraits of Tretyakov’s wife Vera Nikolaevna, and Pavel Mikhailovich himself, in whom he always saw not a merchant, but an intellectual and a true patriot of Russian national culture, who firmly believed that “the Russian school of painting not the last will be. " In a small portrait of 1876, characterized by a certain "chamber" of artistic decision, Kramskoy tried to express the social significance of the person portrayed.
By order of Tretyakov, the artist created two images of the great Russian poet-democrat N.A. Nekrasov (1877-1878), the first of them is a portrait of Nikolai Alekseevich, the second is the painting "Nekrasov in the period of" Last Songs ". Work on these works was complicated by a serious illness of the poet. The artist managed to write it sometimes only ten to fifteen minutes a day, but by March 30, 1877, the portrait of N. A. Nekrasov was completed.
But the greatest value is not he, but the painting "Nekrasov in the period of" The Last Songs ", in which the selection of household details helped to create an accurate image of the poet. A pale, dressed in all white, seriously ill Nekrasov sits on the bed, completely lost in thoughts. And the photographs of N. A. Dobrolyubov and I. S. Turgenev, hung on the walls of his office, as well as a bust of V. G. Belinsky, an ideological mentor and great friend Nekrasov, convey the atmosphere of a rich, intense creative life, making you feel like a great poet immortal.
It is interesting that if you look closely at the surface of the canvas of the picture, it is easy to notice that several seams cross it. The image of the poet’s head is made on a separate fragment, the initial position of which is not difficult to establish. Apparently, at first the master portrayed the terminally ill poet as lying down, then rebuilding the composition, for greater expressiveness. Nekrasov appreciated Kramskoy’s talent by presenting him with a copy of his book “Last Songs”, on the title page of which he wrote: “Kramskoy as a keepsake. N. Nekrasov April 3 ".
Kramsky’s work on the images of the outstanding satirist writer M.E. Saltykov-Shchedrin turned out to be even more complex, stretching for several years. One of the two portraits created by the artist was also intended for the Tretyakov collection and was created from 1877 to 1879, undergoing endless alterations. Having completed the picture, Kramskoy writes to Tretyakov that this portrait “came out really very similar”, speaking of his artistic features, the master emphasizes: “The painting… came out Murugha, and imagine - with intent.”
As in the portrait of Tolstoy, the coloring of the work is very deaf, gloomy. Thus, the artist puts in the spotlight Shchedrin’s face, his high forehead, the mournfully lowered corners of his lips, and, most importantly, the demanding questioning look inherent only to him. An important role in creating the image of a satirical writer is played by hands - closed, with thin interlocked fingers, they are emphasized aristocratic, but not at all gentle.
The unifying idea for the portraits of Leo Tolstoy, N.A. Nekrasov, M.E. Saltykov-Shchedrin, P.M. Tretyakova, became the idea of high citizenship. In them, Kramskoy saw the spiritual leaders of the nation, advanced people of their time. This left an imprint on the manner of portraying the portrayed. The artist deliberately “narrowed down” the boundaries of their personality in order to emphasize their social significance. Nothing, according to Kramskoy, should have distracted the viewer from the main thing - the spiritual component of the heroes of his portraits, and therefore the color of the paintings is so deaf.
When the artist painted portraits of writers, artists, in his opinion, who did not accumulate the “spiritual charge” of the era so powerfully, he made the pictorial-plastic solution of the work more free, uninhibited, which made the images of people depicted by him lively and direct. To works of this kind can be attributed a portrait of Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin performed by the painter in 1873. This work, like the canvas "Nekrasov in the period of" The Last Songs ", belongs to the category of portraits, paintings, as it combines two principles at once - portrait and landscape.
The image of nature created in this work is not just a natural background for the image of the master of the landscape, but the element in which he lived and worked. The lyrical and at the same time majestic landscape (a clear blue sky with light clouds floating on it, the mysterious silhouette of a forest and tall grass at Shishkin’s feet), not only recreates the appearance of a particular area, but represents a generalized expression of Russian nature, as it was depicted in the 70s years, including I. I. Shishkin himself.
The artist sought to emphasize his indissoluble unity with the outside world. The slender but powerful figure of a landscape painter, his strong-willed open face, outward simplicity and at the same time the undeniable greatness of his appearance, the way he peers calmly and in a businesslike way to endless distances, all this accurately conveys Kramsky’s view of Shishkin as a “man-school” "," Milestone in the development of the Russian landscape. "
Later, in 1880, Kramskoy will write another portrait of the great singer of Russian nature. In it, the artist will again be amazed at his physical strength, noting that with age, Shishkin’s personality became richer and more complex.
Extraordinary portraiture gift
Among the many portraits of Russian writers and artists painted in the 70s, most of which Kramskoy painted for P.M. Tretyakov, were I.A. Goncharova, I.E. Repin, I.P. Polonsky, P.I. Melnikov-Pechersky, M.M. Antokolsky, S.T. Aksakova, F.A. Vasiliev, M.K. Klodt and many others.
Two portraits can be especially distinguished - the writer Dmitry Vasilievich Grigorovich (1876) and the painter Alexander Dmitrievich Litovchenko (1878).
Creating a portrait of the author of the then popular Anton-Goremyk novel, the master vigilantly noticed Grigorovich’s usual bariness of posture and a kind of indulgence and complacency in his eyes, characteristic of a person who was not used to delving into the complexity of life around him. A stressed theatrical gesture of a hand with a gold-framed pince-nez between his thin fingers. “This is not a portrait, but just a scene, drama!.. So Grigorovich is sitting in front of you with all his lies, French feuilletonism, boasting and laughter,” V.V. Stasov enthusiastically wrote to Kramskoy. Although the artist himself, after a few years wrote a letter to the famous publisher A.S. Suvorin, tried to deflect the accusation of obvious tendentiousness, asserting that he did not want to “do anything funny, except for a completely natural passion for the visible characteristic form, without underlining.”As far as this is true, we probably will never know, but one thing is clear: today we are attracted to the portrait of D. V. Grigorovich precisely by the artist’s fascination with the “visible characteristic form”, which was the key to creating a surprisingly vivid and vibrant human image.
This is even more pronounced in a large-format portrait of A. D. Litovchenko. Dressed in a dense dark brown coat, the artist is depicted on a light gray-greenish background. A little “eroding” the moving contour outlining the figure, Kramskoy emphasized the natural ease of his model. The position of Litovchenko is unusually expressive, the right hand of which is laid with his free movement behind his back, and the left hand gracefully holds a cigar with a usual gesture. Fingers are not drawn, only outlined by several precise, dynamic strokes. It was no coincidence that Kramskoy “smeared” the edge of the sleeve framing this arm and made it deliberately fuzzy. So he convincingly conveyed the natural instantness of the gesture, exactly corresponding to the lively, changeable expression of the face of the hero of the portrait, framed by a lush beard. One can only guess about the lip pattern, but black as embers,the eyes of the person portrayed look so piercingly sharp, in the best way expressing all the immediacy of his nature, that the whole image of Litovchenko is perceived "as alive." The artist uses stingy, but extremely expressive details with amazing accuracy: the cap of the conical shape perfectly completes the silhouette of the artist’s figure as a whole, as well as the light yellow gloves that casually peek out from the pocket of Litovchenko’s coat and complete his image.Litovchenko’s coat carelessly peeking out of his pocket completes his look.Litovchenko’s coat carelessly peeking out of his pocket completes his look.
The portrait of A. D. Litovchenko is without a doubt one of Kramskoi’s greatest creative successes. His image turned out to be so lively and brightly individual thanks to the high pictorial merits of this picture, “by fire, passion and vitality of quick execution, similar to impromptu” (V. Stasov).
Ivan Nikolaevich no longer “draws” with a brush, as it was in many of his paintings, how many he writes, widely, temperamentously, lining up a plastic form with color, anticipating the best portrait canvases by I.E. Repin. Struck by his powerful expression, M.P. Mussorgsky would respond so much about his work: “Going to the portrait of Litovchenko, I rebounded…” he wrote to V.V. Stasov. - What a miracle Kramskoy! This is not a canvas - it is life, art, power, sought in creativity! ”
We can see what the artist himself had become by this time, thanks to his 1874 Self-Portrait. A small format picture was clearly written "for myself." Saturated dark red background contributes to the creation of an atmosphere of emphasized concentration in the portrait. Kramskoy, peering into his own face, shows how over the years his composure and perseverance, developed by a difficult life and constant work, have increased. His gaze became much deeper and sadder than in the self-portrait of 1867, in which the master seemed to publicly declare his position as a wrestling artist. Now, without retreating a single step from the chosen path, he confesses to himself how enormous spiritual strength this endurance and courage require.
“Until now, only portraits of men have been successful for Mr. Kramskoy,” wrote one of the seventh mobile observers, “but the current exhibition has shown that a woman’s portrait, which is incomparably more difficult, is equally accessible to him.”
A true remark, especially considering that before Kramskoy such a democratic kind of female portrait, the merit of the development of which belongs entirely to him, did not exist in Russian painting.
The image of the Russian people
Kramskoy often wrote that, living in St. Petersburg, he felt the brunt of the oppressive public atmosphere, he even said that the "Petersburg climate", which he had always tried to resist, "kills Russian art and artists." In this sensation, he had many like-minded people. Let us recall A. Pushkin, who said that the “North is harmful” to him, K. P. Bryullov, who, returning from Italy, bathed in the glory of glory, but wrote that he was “moping,” because he was “afraid of the climate and bondage.”
“He pulls me out of Petersburg,” Kramskoy wrote, “it makes me sick!” Where is pulling, why sick?.. Where is peace? Yes, and that would be nothing if rich and unimaginably huge material did not lie outside the cities, there, in the depths of marshes, forests and impassable roads. What kind of faces, what kind of figures! Yes, the waters of Baden-Baden help the other, Paris and France to the other, and the third… suma, yes freedom! ” Responding vividly to the emerging “going to the people”, the artist wrote that “sitting in the center… you begin to lose the nerve of a wide free life; too far outskirts, and the people are something that can give! Oh my god, what a huge spring! Have only ears to hear, and eyes to see… It pulls me out, that’s how it pulls! ” It was among the people of Kramskoy who saw the main force of life, discovering in it a new source of creative inspiration.
The images of peasants in the works of I. N. Kramskoy are very diverse. This is the "Contemplator" (1876, Kiev Museum of Russian Art), a philosopher, a seeker of eternal truth, and a beekeeper living a life unified with nature ("Pasechnik", 1872), and "Little Man with a Hook" (1872, Tallinn Art Museum) - lived a long, joyless century, a clogged old peasant. There are other images, such as the hero of the painting “Village Warden” (“Miller”, 1873), or the mighty, stern man on the canvas of 1874 “The Head of the Peasant” (Penza Art Gallery of K. A. Savitsky).
But the most significant work on a folk theme was the picture of 1874 "Woodland". Regarding her, Kramskoy writes to P. M. Tretyakov: “… my sketch in a shot hat, according to the plan, should depict one of those types (they are in the Russian people) that understand much of the social and political system of folk life with their mind, and who deeply settled discontent bordering on hatred. Of these people, in difficult times Stenka Razina and Pugacheva gain their gangs, and in ordinary times - they act alone, where and how they will, but never put up. The type is unsympathetic, I know, but I also know that there are many, I saw them. ”
In the late period of creativity, the artist also turned to the peasant theme. In 1882, a "study of a Russian peasant" was created - a portrait of Mina Moiseyev. In 1883, the painting “The Peasant with a Bridle” (Kiev Museum of Russian Art). In these two works, the master created two diametrically opposite images, written, however, from the same model.
Late period of creativity
Despite the political defeat of democratic thought in Russia in the 70-80s of the 19th century, which was literally crushed by the regime, Russian democratic art was experiencing an unprecedented high rise. Significant changes were taking place in the life of the Partnership of Traveling Art Exhibitions; the work of such titans of Russian fine art as I. E. Repin and V. I. Surikov came to the fore. Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoy continued to work hard and hard. Despite the high authority that the artist had among his contemporaries, it became increasingly difficult for him to work. Evidence of this is the unfinished picture "Laughter" for many years, the very idea of which no longer corresponded to the needs of the community. As a result, Kramskoy had only portraits left.
During this period, the artist, with his inherent skill and psychologism, paints portraits of I. I. Shishkin, the outstanding figure in Russian medicine S. P. Botkin and artist V. V. Samoilov. Moreover, Kramskoy not only looked worthy next to younger portrait painters, such as I. E. Repin and N. A. Yaroshenko, but continued to play the role of a “teacher” for them. And their paintings, in turn, carried a reflection of Kramskoy’s art.
Nevertheless, the artist understood that he needed to grow somewhere, to look for new ways for his work. He is trying his hand at a ceremonial portrait, looking for new lighting and color solutions, panting at the same time, under the weight of constant orders. Hurrying to provide families as best as possible and realizing that his strength was running out, Kramskoy darted between time-consuming creative searches and fast work, which sometimes did not lead to the best result. The artist, who was highly respected and even honored, was hard on these failures.
The requirements that life itself presented to art changed, therefore, and the art system had to change. In 1883, a young artist K. A. Korovin, a student of A. K. Savrasov and V. D. Polenov, wrote a sketch “Chorus Girl” at the Moscow School of Music and Arts, taking for him an unusual motif and very bold painting techniques. Even Polenov, familiar with the work of the French impressionists, was struck by this bold experiment of the artist, deciding that he was far ahead of his time. However, soon a close friend of Korovin, V. A. Serov will write his “Girl with Peaches” (1887), turning the portrait of twelve-year-old Vera - the daughter of the famous Moscow industrialist S. I. Mamontov, into a radiant image of youth.
In an effort to capture the essence of new trends, Kramskoy writes his “Unknown” (1883) - one of his most mysterious paintings. Here is how the art historian N. G. Mashkovtsev describes the painting: “A young woman is depicted in a stroller against the background of the Anichkov Palace, painted in rusty red. This color is softened by winter fog, as well as the contours of architecture. With a greater clarity, the female figure comes to the fore. She is dressed with all the luxury of fashion. She sat back in the crew, upholstered in dark yellow leather. In her face is the pride of a woman conscious of her charm. In no portrait did Kramskoy pay so much attention to accessories - velvet, silk, fur. The dark glove, tightly covering the hand, like a second skin, thin and translucent, through which a living body is felt, is written with some special warmth. Who is she, this captivating woman,it remains unknown. ”
Many believe that Kramskoy portrayed Anna Karenina as a symbol of the new position of a woman in society, such as it should become. This version has both supporters and opponents, but it would be more correct to assume that the artist I.N. Kramskoy, and the writer L.G. Tolstoy, creating their female images, invested in them something more than a portrait of a specific woman, namely, their idea of the ideal of a modern woman. Like Tolstoy, Kramskoy, defending the human dignity of a woman, he set himself the task of trying to realize his idea of the moral and aesthetic category of beauty through the visible, “objective”, attractiveness of the model.
In 1884, the artist completed his painting "Inconsolable grief", conceived back in the late 70s. The plot of the canvas is inspired by the personal grief of the master - the death at an early age of his two younger sons. Through this work, which has an unusual number of sketches and sketches (showing how important it was for Kramskoy) for the artist, he transferred his own grief and grief to his wife, Sophia Nikolaevna. Investing in the picture a lot of personal, deeply hidden, the painter at the same time sought to maximize and deepen its content. Precisely and sparingly selected elements bring us into the atmosphere of the house, into which great grief came, transmitted, however, very restrained, without melodramatic excesses, only the reddish glow of the funeral candles flickering behind the curtains suggests its cause.
The compositional and semantic center of the canvas is the image of a woman full of drama. Her strained straight figure, the mournful gaze of those who do not see eyes, the scarf brought to her lips, testifying to the barely restrained sobs, reveal the whole depth of her suffering. Such a psychological expressiveness of the image did not easily go to the artist. “I sincerely sympathized with maternal grief,” Kramskoy wrote to P. M. Tretyakov. “I was looking for a long clean form and finally settled on this form…” It was the strict form, achieved without unnecessary theatricality, that allowed him to create the image of a strong-willed person, and the monumental structure of the canvas helped convey feelings and emotions, like a personality drama that the master is trying to raise to the level of a large social phenomenon.
It should be noted that in contrast to the portraits of the 70s, in which the feelings of the heroes of Kramskoy were more likely marked by the seal of high citizenship, the characters of later works live in a much more closed world of personal experiences.
Kramsky’s letters to his friends tell us how difficult the last period of his life was for him. In 1883 he writes P.M. To Tretyakov: “… I confess that circumstances are beyond my character and will. I am broken by life and have far from done what I wanted and what I should have… ". At the same time, a letter was written to the artist P. O. Kovalevsky: “I have been working in darkness for a long time. Near me there is already nobody who, like a voice of conscience or the trumpet of the archangel, would notify a person: “Where is he going? Is it a real road or lost? ” There is nothing more to expect from me; I myself have already stopped waiting for myself. ”
However, the master worked until his last day. For five hours a day, he conducted portrait sessions, constantly crying out in pain, but almost noticing this, he was so carried away by his creative process. So it was on the last day of the painter. Feeling a surge of vigor in the morning, he painted a portrait of Dr. Rauchfus. Suddenly, his gaze stopped and he fell right on his palette. It was March 24, 1887.
“I don’t remember the more cordial and touching the funeral!.. Peace be upon you, a mighty Russian man who has gotten out of the insignificance and dirt of the backwoods,” wrote I. E. Repin subsequently about the wires to the last journey of his old friend.
In the same 1887, a large posthumous exhibition of the works of the great Russian master was organized, accompanied by the publication of a detailed illustrated catalog. A year later, a book was published dedicated to the life and work of Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoy.