The great Russian sculptor gained recognition and pan-European fame thanks to a string of historical images created by him throughout his creative life. His works can be seen not only in museums and on the streets of Russian cities, but also in the richest collections in Great Britain, France, and Germany.
Perhaps the most famous work of the master, commissioned by the emperor Alexander Nikolayevich, is a sculpture of Ivan the Terrible (Russian Museum, Petersburg). Antokolsky managed to convey the multifaceted and controversial nature of the Russian Tsar. In front of the viewer, a formidable ruler appears in monastic attire, with a book on his lap, a rosary in his hand. His gaze is focused and sullen. The sculptor created a sculpture that conveys the special state of Grozny, the moment when the period of repentance is replaced by a period of state activity, cruel, decisive, uncompromising. Another moment - and the ruler will rise sharply and go to execute sovereign affairs.
Despite the fact that the customer liked the work of the master, for a long time this work was not exhibited to the public. One of the copies of this sculpture was acquired by the Kensington Museum. For the first time, the work of a Russian sculptor interested Western collectors.
No less famous is the sculpture of Christ before the court of the people (Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow), in which the author tried to answer numerous moral questions of his time. The Savior appears before us with bound hands. He is depressed, but on his face there is not a shadow of doubt in the chosen path. Before us is a courageous and unyielding man who dutifully accepts all suffering and persecution.
The nervous, subtle, ironic Mephistopheles (Tretyakov Gallery) has nothing to do with the images created by Goethe or Bulgakov. The master, at this age, discerned contradictions and tragedy. Without the ability to create anything, designed only to destroy, the fallen angel is forced to move away from the Light and plunges into Darkness. Awareness of their fate and contradiction - that is what the author managed to portray.
Peace and pacification blows from the sculpture of Nestor the Chronicler (Russian Museum). The monk, the creator of the chronicle, which is the most important Russian historical source, is completely immersed in the work. He is a contemplator, recording what is happening, describing the past. The image is full of grandeur and passion for writing. The hero seems to be aware of the importance of his work for posterity, and therefore treats her with reverence, reverence.
The undoubted success of the author is the work Death of Socrates (Russian Museum). Masters admire the courage of a philosopher who knew how to live a beautiful life, as well as who managed to face death courageously, and who preferred death to abandon his beliefs. A bowl with a cycut, dropped out of the hands of the hero, a very bright and capacious detail, dramatizing the plot, revealing the tragedy of the situation.
The sculptor approached non-standardly to the image of Emperor Peter. In front of the viewer, like a Russian hero in a European suit. A proudly raised head, a turn of mighty shoulders create an unusually strong and full image of a self-confident reformer of Russia.