Ilya Repin, Portrait of writer Vsevolod Mikhailovich Garshin, 1884.
This portrait by Ilya Repin is of a very famous Russian writer, Vsevolod Mikhailovich Garshin. Garshin was the author of popular Russian short stories such as “A Red Flower”. The writer was psychologically troubled, which may have been due do the fact that both his father and brother committed suicide, and his illness can be seen in his writing. At a young age, Garshin himself committed suicide.
Before the portrait was completed, Garshin’s readers would often have discussions about what the young author looked like, and this portrait by Repin gave Russians an actual image of the writer. In the portrait, Garshin appears as if he has been interrupted while at work at his desk. His eyes appear sad and watery. The palette is muted, and Repin’s brushstrokes are loose and impressionistic, which may have been influenced by Repin’s love for the French impressionist Edgar Degas.
This was not the first time Garshin posed for Repin in a painting: Garshin posed as the son of Ivan the Terrible in the painting Ivan the Terrible and His son Ivan, heightening the significance of the portrait.