Museums and Art

Nekrasov during the Last Songs, Kramskoy - portrait description

Nekrasov during the Last Songs, Kramskoy - portrait description

N. 105x89 cm

One of the most powerful and expressive portraits of Ivan Kramskoy "Nekrasov in the period of" Last Songs ". In terms of its drama and plot content, the picture can only be compared with the last lifetime portrait of the composer Mussorgsky by Ilya Repin.

Back in 1875, Nikolai Nekrasov was diagnosed with intestinal cancer, and by 1877 all of Petersburg knew about the illness of the writer. The intelligentsia very painfully watched the poet's decline.

At the same time, Pavel Tretyakov got the idea to collect portraits of all the outstanding people of his time, and he just did not have Nekrasov. With a request to write a poet, Tretyakov turned to Kramskoy, which he did not for the first time, and the painter responded to the order. So this amazing work appeared, capturing the enormous strength of spirit, resistance, fearlessness before the disease in the name of realizing creative inspiration. Nekrasov writes his last work - “Last Songs”, a kind of testament to his descendants.

Eight years earlier, Nikolai Ge had already written to Nekrasov, but Kramskoy had more difficult work to do - in 1868 the poet was still full of strength and energy, but Ivan Nikolayevich had to work with a man who no longer got out of bed.

At first, portraying the poet exhausted and on pillows seemed unthinkable, because the descendants should see the great Nekrasov in all its glory, and it is impossible to imagine him in a house coat. However, with all the hesitations and doubts of the artist, Kramskoy remained true to himself - he depicted only the truth. As a result, the portrait turned out to be chamber-like, even to some extent intimate, but the hero himself gives him monumentality and grandeur, his unbending strength of mind, and the fight against the disease. This is a complete debacle of the disease before a creative impulse.

Nekrasov is pale and thin. His eyes are sad and very tired, but not these moods dominate the look - the writer’s gaze is distinguished by persistence and concentration. Skillfully executed drapery of a sheet of a color of a word bone, does not hide painful thinness. In the hands of Nikolai Alekseevich a neat stack of leaves on which the author writes his work.

In addition to the exact characteristics of the hero, the details are thought out in the picture. That is why the picture borders on the genre between the portrait and the everyday style. There is a cup on the bedside table, and beside it some medicine, the tier below is manuscripts, books, newspapers. A small bell sounds very painful, with the help of which Nekrasov, almost no longer moving, called in a servant.

The paintings above the bed are black and white portraits of Adam Mickiewicz and Nikolai Dobrolubov, and the background is slightly darkened on the left - you can’t immediately see the bust of Vissarion Belinsky.

The result of Nekrasov's posing sessions was a portrait, which depicts only the poet’s head, without arms. The portrayed liked the work, and he ordered two more copies from the painter, for himself.

But Kramskoy did not confine himself to this - Nikolai Alekseevich was dying away precisely in the interior of the room, the artist finished only in 1878, and, alas, Nekrasov was no longer alive by then.


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