Talented painter I. Kramskoy and patron P. Tretyakov met in 1869 and for many years became close friends. The artist respected and, like no one else, Tretyakov understood, they often met in person, consisted in correspondence, shared views on the development of the political and cultural life of the country. Tretyakov has bought quite a lot of works of Kramskoy, including 12 portraits, specially created for the national gallery.
The portrait of the collector himself was written by Kramskoy in 1876, during Tretyakov’s illness. Long friendly relations, understanding and respect for the portrait helped the artist create one of the most penetrating and lyrical images.
Like most of the portrait works of Kramskoy, the image of Pavel Mikhailovich is a pectoral one. In this case, the artist has the opportunity to pay more attention to the elaboration of the person portrayed. With great skill, Kramskoy brings to the canvas the right aristocratic features of the patron’s face, the steadiness of character and the calm look of his intelligent dark eyes, highlighting the forehead as the “receptacle” of thought. The person who is looking at the picture personifies nobility, dignity and a special spiritual power.
Kramskoy managed to convey the most vivid personality qualities, thanks to which the portrait turned out to be profound and integral, emphasizing the invaluable contribution of Pavel Mikhailovich in support and preservation of Russian art.