In the summer of 1873 Ivan Nikolayevich Kramskoy worked on the painting “Inspection of the old house.” He lived in a manor near Yasnaya Polyana and decided to make every effort to write a portrait of Leo Tolstoy.
The count did not agree to pose for a long time. In one of his letters to the well-known philosopher and publicist NN Strakhov, Tolstoy writes: “Tretyakov has long sent me to me, but I did not want to, but now this Kramskoy came and persuaded me.”
In the portrait of Tolstoy, the talent of Kramsky, a psychologist, was clearly manifested. Neutral background canvas allows the artist to concentrate the viewer’s attention on the character of the work. The artist masterfully conveys the complex inner world of the great writer.
Tolstoy’s glance, full of cold attention and insight, reveals in him a brilliant analyst of human souls, capable of understanding and revealing the essence of life. Kramskoy demonstrates the integrity of the nature of Leo Nikolayevich, unyielding will and mighty intellect. The democratic character and national character of the external appearance of Tolstoy emphasizes his closeness to the people.
Tolstoy’s portrait, according to the researchers of Kramskoy’s work, is one of the artist’s best works.