Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky (1839–1881) is a Russian composer. His main works are the operas Boris Godunov (1872), Khovanshchina (completed by N.A. Rimsky-Korsakov, 1883), The Fair at Sorochyntsi (completed by C.A. Cui, 1916) and the piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition (1874). Mussorgsky’s portrait is a masterpiece in Repin’s art and in the entire Russian portraiture of the 1880s. It was painted 10 days before the composer’s death, in the hospital, in four sessions, and, according to an eye-witness, “with every possible inconvenience; the painter did not even have an easel and he had to perch somehow near the desk at which Mussorgsky was sitting in a hospital armchair.” The artist depicts the terminally ill man with rare delicacy. The indeterminate background creates an illusion of open space. Musorgsky seems to be depicted against the sky, his gaze is far away. Repin refused to accept the payment for the work donating the money to the composer’s monument.
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