Kramskoy – “N.A. Nekrasov in the period -” Last Songs “
The order for the portrait of the Russian classic Nikolai Alekseevich Nekrasov came to Kramskoy from Pavel Tretyakov – the great philanthropist wanted to collect portraits of all the outstanding people of his time, and, of course, did not pass by the famous poet, editor, publicist.
In 1875, Nekrasov was diagnosed with an incurable disease – intestinal cancer, and by 1877 it became clear that his days were numbered. It was then that Pavel Tretyakov made an urgent order to Kramskoy.
The artist set to work, deciding to paint a sick writer lying in pillows, to which he received a decisive refusal from the customer – a great classic cannot appear in such a feeble pose. The “great fighter”, as Nekrasov was then called, should be portrayed accordingly. Kramskoy fulfilled the will of the customer and created a bust portrait, which was accepted by Tretyakov.
However, upon completion of the order, Kramskoy begins to paint a canvas in accordance with his creative concept, which will enter the world art culture as “Portrait of Nekrasov in the period of” Last Songs “. The portrait never saw the picture – the painter finished it when Nekrasov was no longer alive.
At first, the picture was supposed to be replete with many things and little things that Nekrasov loved. So, for example, the space of the canvas was supposed to contain a cabinet with weapons, as a reminder of the hunting passion, the poet’s favorite dog. However, soon Kramskoy will remove the “unnecessary” details that interfere with the perception of the heroic image, making the picture more in format than originally intended.
Having carefully examined the picture, you can tell a lot about its hero – on the right edge of the work you can see a bust of Belinsky, whom Nekrasov honored all his life as his teacher and an outstanding person, and on the table there is a volume of Sovremennik, a magazine to which the poet devoted a significant part of his life, portraits of Mickiewicz and Dobrolyubov speak of his interests and beliefs.
Kramskoy has got an amazing portrait, which combines both intimacy and true grandeur, even monumentality. We see a Big Man, an outstanding figure of the literary word, who was tormented by illness. His physical strength is running out and literally everything in his appearance speaks about this, but at the same time, mental power still glows, not running out at the edge of the grave.
The painter put a false date in the corner of the canvas – March 3. It was on this day that Nekrasov read to Kramskoy his poem “Bayushki-Bayu”, which deeply impressed the painter and became prophetic for the writer.
Year of painting: 1863.
Dimensions of the painting: 64.5 x 56 cm.
Writing technique: oil.
Gallery: State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.