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Perov, Vasily Grigorievich
Portrait of Fedor Dostoyevsky

1872
oil on canvas
99 80,5

Fedor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky (18211881), great writer, most widely read Russian author abroad, creator of the novels Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1868), The Devils (18711872), Adolescent (1875) and The Brothers Karamazov (18791880). During the period 18731881, he published the Diary of a Writer. The portrait was made at the time when Dostoyevsky was working on the novel The Devils. The psychological dramaturgy of the work rests on contrast between the concentrated, frozen face (the head with its frozen suffering as I.N. Kramskoi put it) and the tightly folded arms, which seem to remember wearing shackles. Dostoyevsky was sentenced to death for his part in the revolutionary circle of M.V. Butashevich-Petrashevsky, but instead his punishment was changed at the last moment to confinement at hard labour. The writers spouse A.G. Dostoyevskaya said that Perov capturedDostoyevskys moment of creation when he peered into himself as it were. Dostoyevsky was depicted in a pose similar to Christ in Kramskois Christ in the Desert. This resemblance was not coincidental for the writers contemporaries. In the opinion of Kramskoi, the main virtue of the [portrait] is understandably the expression of the personality of the famous writer and man.

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