Portrait of Pavel Tretyakov. 1876
59.5 х 49 Oil on canvas Tretyakov Gallery, Hall 20

Kramskoi made the acquaintance of Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov (1832–1898), a Moscow-based merchant and collector of paintings, the founder of the Tretyakov Gallery, in 1869. The artist and the collector actively corresponded. Kramskoi took part in the creation of the portrait gallery of Russian culture’s outstanding figures painting 12 canvases commissioned by Tretyakov. “I have known him for a long time and realised long ago that no one can influence Tretyakov, either in his choice of paintings or in his personal opinions,” wrote Kramskoi. Tretyakov’s image is painted in a simple manner; it is a face of a committed man. Russia had an abundance of such people in the 19th century. At the end of his life, Tretyakov noted: “Since the very youth, my idea has been to acquire so that which has been acquired from society would be returned to society (the people) in some useful institutions.”

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