Portrait of Writer Leo Tolstoy. 1873
98 х 79.5 Oil on canvas Tretyakov Gallery, Hall 20

Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (1828–1910) is a great Russian writer, the author of: novels - War and Peace (1863–1869), Anna Karenina (1873–1877), Resurrection (1889–1899); novellas - The Death of Ivan Ilyich (1884–1886), The Kreutzer Sonata (1887–1889); plays - Power of Darkness (1886) and The Living Corpse (1900); works on philosophical, religious and aesthetic subjects. During the 1860s, P.M. Tretyakov got the idea of forming a portrait gallery of Russian culture’s leading figures. Though the initiative to make Tolstoy’s portrait belonged to Kramskoi, it corresponded to Tretyakov’s long-held desire. The portrait was made at Tolstoy’s estate of Yasnaya Polyana when the writer was working on the novel Anna Karenina. Tolstoy acknowledged that the portrait was a success. The emphatic simplicity of the artistic language appealed to the writer’s aesthetic views. The critic V.V. Stasov wrote about Kramskoi’s work: "…Masterful use of paint; the gifted nature of this powerful and amazingly beautiful colour scheme came out of nowhere and hit such an unexpected note as one encounters among the greatest portraitists of the 17th century…"

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