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The story “The Jumper” for the whole 3 years quarreled Chekhov with Levitan and almost brought the matter to a duel. However, this plot is known to everyone who graduated from high school. But what happened in their relationship before and what happened after, and what role Anton Chekhov actually played in Isaac Levitan’s life, Arthive will tell about this with the help of documents and rare photographs.
Chekhov in the fate of Levitan

“To Moscow, to Moscow! ..” How and where did the artist and writer meet?


Chekhov and Levitan were born in the same year 1860, two thousand two hundred kilometers from each other: the first was born in Taganrog, and the second - in the Lithuanian village of Kibarta near the station of Verzhbolovo. Almost simultaneously, in the 70s of the XIX century, the ruined small shopkeeper Pavel Chekhov and the unfortunate railway clerk and translator from the French Elyash (Ilya) Levitan decided to take their large families to Moscow.
Isaac Levitan. Illumination of the Moscow Kremlin in honor of the coronation of Nicholas II, 18 may 1896
Illumination of the Moscow Kremlin in honor of the coronation of Nicholas II, 18 may 1896
1896, 50×81 cm

In Chekhov’s play “Three Sisters” (written in the year of Levitan’s death - 1900), her heroines, weighed down by the vulgarity of provincial life, dream of salvation: “To Moscow, to Moscow! ..” The families of Chekhov and Levitan were guided by more practical motives: if you do not correct the difficult financial situation, then at least eventually “bring people” to children. In the early 1870s Chekhov's elder brother Nikolaiand Levitan's brother Adolfwill go to the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture - an institution headed by Vasily Perov and famous for its democratism in defiance of the stiff Petersburg Academy of Arts. There, in a year or two, in the footsteps of his brother, the second Levitan son, 13-year-old Isaac, will be adopted. With a diligent and always ready to have fun Nikolai Chekhov, they will become friends.

But Anton’s teenager (in his family’s name was “Antoshi”) his parents didn’t take Chekhov to Moscow: he was precarious, responsible, adult, and for several years he would stay in Taganrog to look after the house and shop and try to get rid of his father’s lenders. Anton will come to Moscow and join his family later, by the age of 19, when he decides to enter the medical faculty of Moscow University. In the same year 1879, biographers also date Chekhov’s acquaintance with Levitan - their friendship that started almost immediately preceded their first fame, their first masterpieces, and, all the more, all-Russian fame. Not two celebrities got to know each other and briefly met (and both will become famous, by today's standards, early), but two young men who came from the province. Intelligent beautifulslender, extremely attractive to the opposite sex (this fact is important in the context of our story and therefore we will not begin to hush it up), and probably not yet suspecting each other's ingenious talent.

When Chekhov's father Pavel Yegorovich, a fanatically religious, but cruel and absurd, diverged too much, not giving rest to his family, Anton came to prepare for exams in cheap furnished rooms on Sretenka or Tverskaya to his brother Nikolai, an artist student who was gathering a noisy company from passionate about the art of youth, not excluding Levitan.

Chekhov in the fate of Levitan
Chekhov in the fate of Levitan
1. Anton and Nikolai Chekhov. Moscow. 1882 year.
2. Student MUZHVZ Nikolai Chekhov.


Such saw his closest friends - the younger brother Anton (left) and Isaac's classmate at the age of about 25 - the artist Nikolai Chekhov.

Chekhov in the fate of Levitan

And so the Chekhov brothers looked, according to the creators of the French film “Anton Chekhov” (Anton Tchékhov 1890, 2015). Anton is on the right, Nikolai is on the left. Behind him is an easel with still lifes (apparently arbitrary).

The talk about the role of art and the injustice of the social structure was not limited to the obligatory Russian students: everyone, and Levitan and Chekhov, in particular, loved to fool around, laugh and compose hilarious fables and scenes (humorous stories of Antosha Chekhonte were later born). “Once, Anton, Kolya, Levitan and another student artist bought oranges from a shopkeeper and started selling them on the street so cheaply that the shopkeeper called the police and the students were taken to the station”- says Chekhov’s biographer Donald Rayfield. In this company, funny nicknames were given to each other, which could "grow" to a person for a long time. Levitan, for example, turned to everyone only as a “crocodile” (“You are such a talented crocodile, and you write trifles!” - addressed to Anton Chekhov). Comrades in revenge for the crocodiles called Levitan - Leviathan.

The passion for tomfoolery in Levitan paradoxically combined with attacks every now and then was overcome by severe melancholy, and in Chekhov it was no less paradoxical with rationality and healthy practicality. Not much time will pass and medical student Chekhov will simultaneously collaborate with most Russian humorous magazines, from Dragonfly to Alarm Clock, and this will provide a penny to his brother Nikolai and the poor, who at that time often did not have dinner, Levitan through the mediation of Anton, orders for drawings and caricatures were received. Nikolai Chekhov, who did not have special abilities for easel painting, will find his vocation in the journal work, but Levitan, an artist of a purely lyrical warehouse, was given such a hard day.

If it were his will, Levitan would generally avoid portraying people and animals - his artistic philosophy was that any human emotions and thoughts can be expressed through a clear landscape
The development of the genre from antiquity to the present day: how did religion and the invention of oil painting contribute to the development of the genre in Europe, and why was the Hudson River so important? Read more
. But at the age of 19, Levitan still lacked the confidence to insist on his own, and in his debut landscape
The development of the genre from antiquity to the present day: how did religion and the invention of oil painting contribute to the development of the genre in Europe, and why was the Hudson River so important? Read more
“Autumn Day. Sokolniki ”, which Tretyakov will purchase for 100 rubles, Nikolai Chekhov is almost forcibly (the poor author, recently expelled by the authorities from Moscow with other Jews, simply had no mental strength to resist) inscribes a female figure.

1. Humorous magazines of the early 1880s, in which Chekhov published himself and found work for others.
2. Hunting sketches (Bear). Lithograph
Along with monotypy, lithography belongs to the group of flat printing techniques, but this is where their similarities seem to end. Lithography appeared in 1796 or 1798, thanks to Johann Alois Senefelder, a typographer from Munich. Initially, they took an imprint from a drawing on a stone slab, usually limestone, which gave the name for the method (ancient Greek λίθος “stone” + γράφω “I write, draw”). Nowadays, instead of lithographic stone, zinc or aluminum plates are used, which are easier to process. Read more
by I. Levitan in the journal Moscow. 1882 year. Number 42.



In the landscape
The development of the genre from antiquity to the present day: how did religion and the invention of oil painting contribute to the development of the genre in Europe, and why was the Hudson River so important? Read more
of Levitan “Autumn day. Sokolniki ”(left) Nikolay Chekhov finished the romantic heroine - a woman in black. It seems that she also appears in the picture of Chekhov himself "Young Widow at the grave of her husband."


Chekhov, Levitan and the "Poetic Babkino"


Isaac Levitan. Manor Babkino. House Kiselev
Manor Babkino. House Kiselev
1885, 22×30 cm

With the onset of the warm months, Muscovites, even recently “come in large numbers”, instantly forgot about the irresistible attractiveness of the main throne and rushed to the suburbs. The Chekhov brothers and their sister Masha rented a summer house in the village of Babkino on the Istra River with the landowners Kiselev. Kiselyovs were educated and cultured people. Anton, a big enthusiast of fun summer cottage entertainment, persuaded Levitan to drop his studies in Savvina Sloboda and go with Chekhovs to Babkino. Fearing to impose himself and having almost nothing to pay for housing, Levitan settled in the neighboring village of Maksimovka, in the small house of a drinking potter and his permanently pregnant wife.

Isaac visited Chekhovs daily, they held concerts and performances there, went hunting and fish, all this was a joy to Levitan. But one day he disappeared. Levitan was not seen in Babkino's day, the second, and by the evening of the third, the worried Chekhov assembled an “expedition” of brothers and acquaintances - to search for Levitan. It rained during the day, walking through the swamp and coppice was damp and chilly. At dusk Chekhov found the hut of the potter. When a noisy crowd burst into the artist’s room, Levitan, who was dressed on an untidy bed and blinded by a candle suddenly brought into the darkness, grabbed and pointed a revolver at the aliens. But, having understood, he laughed nervously: “Wow, damn you!” What fools! You can’t scare him like that! ” Everything seemed to have ended happily, but Chekhov's dragged wife of the potter Pelageya pulled Chekhov into the canopy: “Will you be a doctor?” Chekhov tried to laugh it off: “To you, dear, not to me, but to the midwife is necessary”. She whispered excitedly: "Your Cleaver (so she heard and remembered the name of Isaac - ed.) I lay face down on my bed for two days, and then I decided to shoot a gun. Longing ... "

Chekhov’s decision ripened instantly. An hour ago, not planning anything like this, he went to Levitan and declared that the Kiselyovs were called an artist in Babkino, there was a charming outhouse, a former chicken coop, no worse than the current Levitan kennel. And Levitan obeyed, surrendered to Chekhov. His trust in Anton was almost limitless.

Ilya Repinafter the first meeting with Chekhov, he described his impressions as follows: “Positive, sober, healthy, he reminded me of Turgenev’s Bazarov ... A subtle, inexorable, purely Russian analysis prevailed in his eyes over the whole expression”. Chekhov's medical intuition and human insight prompted him: Levitan is contraindicated in prolonged loneliness, and in order to prevent the melancholic from completing his suicidal intentions, you need to immerse him in an atmosphere of complete friendly acceptance.
Isaac Levitan. Portrait of the writer Anton Chekhov. Etude
Portrait of the writer Anton Chekhov. Etude
1886, 41×31 cm

A born landscape
The development of the genre from antiquity to the present day: how did religion and the invention of oil painting contribute to the development of the genre in Europe, and why was the Hudson River so important? Read more
painter, Levitan painted portraits reluctantly, infrequently and only with great sympathy. So in those years of friendship and close communication Levitan saw Anton Chekhov.


Three happy summers in a row will be spent by Levitan in Babkino. “A heartfelt bow to all the Babkin residents, tell them that I will not wait a minute to see again this poetic Babkino; all my dreams about him, " - he wrote, if for some reason he could not come. Both him and Chekhov worked great here. Chekhov arranged to compose directly on the windowsill or on the table from the Singer sewing machine. Levitan wrote so much and enthusiastically that soon all the walls of his closet turned out to be covered from floor to ceiling with fresh sketches.

Friends' passion for playing comic staging scenes in Babkino did not subside, but, on the contrary, reached its climax. In the wardrobe of the owners of Babkin (the owner’s father Pavel Begichev was the director of the imperial theaters) Chekhov and Levitan procured turbaned robes and Bukhara robes. The Bedouin-Levitan began to earnestly "pray" on the lawn near the house. Bedouin-Chekhov, lying in the bushes, aimed at him with a gun, finally shot, Levitan fell as if mowed down, and the audience were dying of laughter. Another favorite performance was the court: with full observance of all judicial formalities, the “merchant Levitan” was accused of secret distillation, the tradesman Nikolai Chekhov - of drunken fights. Anton Pavlovich acted as a prosecutor.

Chekhovs were inexhaustible in such undertakings, the nervous and vulnerable Levitan ran out of breath faster, unexpectedly closed himself, he began to think that he was being mocked seriously. He sought to retire in order to work quietly and did not participate in general tomfoolery. Frustrated by his absence, Chekhov hung a mocking sign on the door to the painter:

"TRADE OF FAST-RIPPED PICTURES OF THE KOVEN MERCHANT ISAAC SON LEVITANOV."

Knowing the instigator in advance, Levitan paid him the same: Chekhov's wing was soon decorated with a lurid advertisement:

“THE DOCTOR OF CHEKHOV TAKES ORDERS FROM ANY BAD MAGAZINE. EXECUTION ACCURATE AND QUICK. DAY ON A PIECE. "

Mutual fun and ridicule for all the years of their friendship will be the main mode of their relationship and correspondence. “Oh, you striped hyena, a crocodile cursed, a goblin without a back with one nostril, a quasimodo continuous, I don’t know how to scold you yet! - And about 10 years later, Levitan comically scolded in a letter when Chekhov put his melancholy or love affair an irrefutable diagnosis. - I suffer from worms in my heart !!! Oh you, Beelzebub filthy! You yourself suffer from this, and not me, and you will always suffer until the end of your days! Do not cherish the hope of seeing me - I do not want to see you, you are disgusting to me, that’s what ... But still, could I put anger at mercy ?! Where ours didn’t disappear, I forgive you, you remember my generosity ”.

Chekhov in the fate of Levitan
Chekhov in the fate of Levitan
1. Levitan on the hunt.
2. Levitan on the estate of Babkino, 1888.

Country life, which we can judge from Chekhov's stories and plays, like the cottage air with the aromas of wildflowers, was saturated with languor, mutual attraction and novels. But if the restrained Chekhov does not advertise his feelings and relations (and it will always be so - the general public will learn about his many love stories after 120 years, when the Englishman Rayfield will publish Chekhov’s letters not published in Soviet times), then the hot southern man Levitan takes care of women loudly and in front of everyone.

Mikhail Chekhov, the younger brother of Anton and Nikolai, recalled: “Women found him beautiful, he knew this and flirted in front of them strongly. Levitan was irresistible to women, and he himself was unusually amorous. His hobbies proceeded violently, in plain sight, with various stupidities, up to and including shots. From the first glance at the woman he was interested in, he threw everything and rushed after her in pursuit, although she left Moscow at all. It cost him nothing to kneel before the lady, wherever he meets her, whether in the alley of the park or in a house with people. Some women liked it in him, while others, fearing to be compromised, were wary of him, although secretly, as far as I know, they sympathized with him. Thanks to one of his courtship, he was summoned to a duel at a symphony meeting, right at the concert, and right there during the intermission he asked me with excitement to be his second. ”.

In the summer of 1886, Levitan suddenly fell in love with Masha, the only sister of five Chekhov brothers.

Chekhov in the fate of Levitan
Chekhov in the fate of Levitan
1. Maria Pavlovna Chekhova, sister of the writer. Photograph by N. L. Pushkarev. 1882
2. Isaac Levitan. The photo. 1883.

Chekhov in the fate of Levitan
Chekhov in the fate of Levitan

Nikolay Chekhov and Isaac Levitan (in the first photo on the right). Anton and Maria Chekhov. Images from the French film "Anton Chekhov" (2015).

Chekhov in the fate of Levitan
Chekhov in the fate of Levitan
1. Masha Chekhov. 1880-90s.
2. Maria Pavlovna Chekhova. 1940s

“Levitan undertook to teach Masha painting, and good watercolor landscapes and portraits began to come out from under her brush - narrates Donald Rayfield in the book "Chekhov's Life." - Levitan, who had hundreds of connections with hundreds of women, decided to make a marriage proposal only once. Here is how 92 years old Maria Pavlovna Chekhova recalled this 70 years later: “Suddenly Levitan fell on my knees in front of me and ... a declaration of love ... I did not find anything better than to turn around and run away. The whole day I, upset, sat in my room and cried, buried in a pillow. By dinner, as always, Levitan came. I did not go out ... Anton Pavlovich got up from the table and came to me. “What are you roaring?” I told him what had happened and admitted that I did not know how and what to say now to Levitan. The brother answered me like this: “Of course, if you want, you can marry him, but keep in mind that he needs women of Balzac age, and not like you.”.

Maria Pavlovna will live a very long life, will be engaged in the archives and inheritance of her brother Anton and will die in 1957, having survived Levitan by 57 years, and Chekhov by 53. Several more times she will receive offers from the worthy men of marriage, but each time Brother Anton’s direct or indirect disapproval led Masha to refuse. Rayfield writes: “Anton will later tell Suvorin about his sister:“ This is the only girl who sincerely does not want to get married. ” Only years later, Masha will be convinced that in marriage she would be less happy than in the role of secretary of her brother. Already in old age, she confessed to her nephew Sergei that she had never really fallen in love in her life. ”.

But what right did Chekhov have to intervene in his sister's life, and what could be his motive?

“Chekhov wanted to protect his sister from suffering, - says the author of the biography of Levitan Sofya Proporova. - But with his caution, he protected her from happiness. Babkin’s inhabitants tried to quickly smooth out the echoes of the novel that had begun so badly ... Soon, Masha was friends with the artist again, and the memory of an ardent explanation in the forest was drawn by a sad haze ... But for Levitan, the story of unsuccessful matchmaking did not pass without a trace. Never again did he seek the happiness of family life ”.

Babkin’s summer was ending. Friends parted. Levitan was again moping ... To dispel him, Chekhov, who considered Levitan’s seizures of inexplicable melancholy as the beginning of a mental illness, once led Isaac to unwind “under the fire canister” - in the literary and art salon of Sofya Petrovna Kuvshinnikova. For the 26-year-old Levitan, this married 39-year-old lady for 8 years will become a lover, a muse, a faithful companion, and for Chekhov - an unlikely prototype of his “Jumpers”.

Sofya Petrovna Kuvshinnikova


Isaac Levitan. Portrait Of Sofia Petrovna Kuvshinnikova
Portrait Of Sofia Petrovna Kuvshinnikova
1888, 88×57 cm
Chekhov in the fate of Levitan
The collage
Collage (fr. collage — “gluing”) is a method used in the fine arts to create an appliqué of various fragments, different in colour and texture. This term also denotes the work performed in this technique. It was first introduced into the visual arts by the futurists and cubists, in particular, Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. They combined scraps of fabric, photographs and wallpaper on canvases. Famous collage makers include film director Sergei Parajanov, who combined photographs, lace scraps, porcelain and dried plants.
They often try to diversify the decorating technique with pictorial tools: a brush with paint or a pen with ink. The creative genre is notable for its variegation and bold ideas. A related technique is assemblage, which involves combining various objects and their parts on a surface. Photo collages are very popular today. Read more
used sketches of a friend of Levitan, an artist Alexey Stepanovfrom the series “Levitan and Kuvshinnikova on Etudes” and his own portrait of Sofya Petrovna (1, 2, 3).


“She was a woman in her forties, ugly, with the swarthy face of a mulatto, with curly dark hair ... and with a gorgeous figure. She was very famous in Moscow, and she was an “outstanding personality”, as it was customary to say then ... "- describes the poetess, playwright and Chekhov’s friend Tatyana Schepkina-Kupernik to Kuvshinnikova.

Ivan Evdokimov in his biographical novel "Levitan" explains in detail on what exactly the fame of Sofya Petrovna was based on: “Tretyakov bought the flowers painted by Kuvshinnikova, her universally recognized Moscow virtuoso pianists listened to her playing the piano. Sofya Petrovna loved hunting no less than art, and, for a long time disappearing in the forests near Moscow, alone, dressed like a man, returned with a full yagdtash. Sophia Petrovna spoke, commanding, as if she had the same unlimited power over her interlocutors as over her husband, spoiled by his patience, silence, big heart and deep-seated tenderness. Kuvshinnikova was proud and brave, despising all kinds of gossip about herself ... Sofya Petrovna was very gifted. She sewed beautiful costumes from pieces and scraps of cheap material. She knew how to give beauty to any dwelling, the most seedy and dull, transforming a simple barn into a flirty boudoir. Sofya Petrovna cleaned four small rooms of her apartment with unusually high ceilings, as in a non-residential premises, to your liking. The skillful woman lacked funds, but she did not lose heart and turned so deftly with the most modest money that the Kuvshinnikov’s nest decorated with her seemed luxuriously furnished. ”.

Sophia's husband, police doctor Dmitry Kuvshinnikov, loving her, turned a blind eye to his wife’s romance with Levitan and, not paying attention to rumors spreading around Moscow, continued to protect her and support her, and to take Levitan at home. Their guests recalled how Dmitry Pavlovich, who did not take part in noisy gatherings of people of art, at 9 pm with a generous gesture invited everyone to the table: “Gentlemen, please have a bite”.

Whether the situation is unfair, or Chekhov’s professional solidarity with Dr. Kuvshinnikov, or both factors immediately led to the birth of the “Jumpers,” in which the Kuvshinnikovs and Levitan’s triangle, if camouflaged, is not very diligent. But those who knew Sofya Petrovna unanimously assured that she was deeper than the Chekhov heroine. This woman was able to act on Levitan, as if "a living sedative," supported him, distracted from the spleen, instilled confidence. Together with her, Levitan went on sketches to the Volga for several years (despite Chekhov’s objections “Levitan can not live on the Volga. She puts gloom on the soul "), where paintings were created that would make Levitan famousm. In the end, and Chekhov will have to admit: “You know, a smile appeared in your paintings”. He will write to Masha: “Levitan celebrates the birthday of his magnificent muse ...”

By the way, until the release of "Jumpers" in 1891, Chekhov calmly continued to communicate with Sofia Petrovna. When he decides to go to distant lands - to Sakhalin, where he also invited a friend, an artist, none other than Levitan and Kuvshinnikova will accompany Chekhov to the ship.
Chekhov in the fate of Levitan
Photo from the deck of the ship "Petersburg" after leaving Colombo: Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (right) and warrant officer Glinka are holding mongooses in their hands.

After Sakhalin, Chekhov will take a trip abroad, he will visit China, India, and from Ceylon he will bring a living mongoose, which will receive the nickname Bastard from the owner for its exorbitant character. Having left for France, Chekhov will entrust the care of the mongoose to his father Pavel Egorovich, who will inform the sons in letters: "The mongoose is healthy, its behavior is incorrigible, but merits condescension." “The mongoose also does not give rest, Mummy bit off her nose at night, which was frightened when she saw the blood. Now healed. ”
                                                                             
Levitan heard rumors that Chekhov’s sister, Masha, was simultaneously ill and fled the mongoose. “I was very alarmed by the notice of the illness of Maria Pavlovna, - Levitan wrote to Chekhov. - How did you miss the mongoose? After all, the devil knows what it is! It’s just obscene to bring an animal from Ceylon so that it disappears in Kaluga province !!! You’re full of phlegm - to write about Maria Pavlovna’s illness and about the loss of the mongoose in cold blood, as if it should! ”

Levitan blames Chekhov for his famous equanimity ("you are phlegm continuous!"), But he himself is as far from equanimity as ever. Soon it resulted in such an episode:

“Once we went hunting in the river meadows, - recalled Sofya Petrovna. - Over the river and above us gulls swirling smoothly. Suddenly Levitan threw up his gun, a shot rang out - and the poor white bird, somersaulting in the air, flopped a lifeless lump on the coastal sand. I was terribly angry with this senseless cruelty, and I attacked Levitan. At first he was at a loss, and then even upset.
“Yes, yes, that’s disgusting.” I myself don’t know why I did it. It is mean and disgusting. Throwing my nasty act at your feet and swear that I will never do anything like that again. “And he really threw the seagull under my feet ...”

What caused this surge, we do not reliably know. Perhaps Levitan began to be weighed down by relations with Sophia, or he was once again in love with someone and, unable to bear the bifurcation, he hated himself and everyone else. The all-knowing Rayfield claims that Kuvshinnikova would hardly have stayed so close to Levitan if she had not closed her eyes to his parallel hobbies.

One of the women whom Levitan was keenly interested in was Lika Mizinova, a young lady who was familiar with the Chekhov family, for whom the inveterate bachelor Anton Pavlovich even thought about making an offer for a short time. On the way to Sakhalin, he said to his cabin cabin neighbor: “But with her, I will not be happy because she is too beautiful ...”.

Mizinova really, according to her recollections, was extremely good: with luxurious hair, sable eyebrows, gray eyes and a magnificent posture of the opera diva (which Lika was trying to become). She clearly had feelings for Chekhov, who in his humorous manner would either bring her closer or push her away. Lika was lost - love her or is she neglected? Levitan, who was staying with Kuvshinnikova on the estate of Likin’s uncle Nikolay Panafidin, sent Chekhov letters designed to provoke both his laughter and jealousy: “I am writing to you from that charming corner of the earth, where everything, starting from the air and ending, forgive God, the last thing on earth is permeated by it, by it - by the divine Lika! She’s not yet, but she’ll be here, because she loves not you, the blond woman, but me, the volcanic brunette ... "

The response epistolary pass using Levitan’s favorite word, Chekhov sent to Lika: “Do you dream of Levitan with black eyes full of African passion? Do you continue to receive letters from your seventy year old rival(Chekhov means referring to the long-suffering Kuvshinnikova: Lika was born in 1870, and Kuvshinnikova - already in 1847 - ed.)and hypocritically answer her? There’s a big crocodile in you, Lika, and, in essence, I’m doing well that I obey common sense, and not the heart that you bit ”.

Exhausted by the long uncertainty with Chekhov, Lika will start an affair with the married writer Potapenko. Her opera career will not work out. In Paris, she will give birth to a daughter, Christina, the girl will not live long. And Lika herself will become one of the prototypes of Chekhov's "The Seagull."

Chekhov in the fate of Levitan
Chekhov in the fate of Levitan
1. Lydia (Lika) Mizinova.
2. Chekhov and Lidia Mizinova.

Chekhov and Levitan after the "Jumpers"


After reading The Springbok (and he read everything that came from Chekhov’s pen), Levitan was deeply offended. For the first time in many years of acquaintance, he and Chekhov ceased all contact. Resentment was deep. And yet Levitan essentially lacked Chekhov's “phlegm”, his wise calm, his wit. When Tatyana Schepkina-Kupernik with childlike directness offers to go to Chekhov, whom Levitan has not seen for three years, the artist agrees with horror and happiness. They will come to Chekhov in Melikhovo, after a second of a tense interrogative pause, they will embrace and continue to communicate.

Chekhov in the fate of Levitan
Chekhov in the fate of Levitan
1. Melikhovo. The outbuilding, built by A.P. Chekhov in 1894, where "The Seagull" was written. The photo.
2. Anton Chekhov on the steps of the Melikhov house with a dachshund Hina. May 1897.
Isaac Levitan. Porch in Melikhovo. Lilac
Porch in Melikhovo. Lilac
1895, 31×49.5 cm

While Levitan continued to be restless and homeless, Chekhov bought and equipped the publisher Suvorin’s estate in Melikhovo, where, remaining the head of the family and unquestioned authority for all his relatives, he moved his old parents, brothers and sister.

So, drowning in May lilac thickets, see the wooden porch of the Chekhov’s house in Melikhovo, Isaac Levitan in 1895. Levitan's acquaintances knew that he was very fond of lilacs. It is said that at the end of the summer of 1900, when Levitan died, the weather was amazing - the lilac color twice that year, in May and August.


Chekhov in the fate of Levitan
Anton Chekhov is surrounded by relatives: next to Chekhov in Turkish is his brother Mikhail, behind his left shoulder Chekhov - his mother Evgenia Yakovlevna and father Pavel Egorovich, behind his right - sister Masha, next to her - Lika Mizinova. Moscow. 1890.

Chekhov will never reconcile with Sofia Kuvshinnikova. He once predicted to Mizinova: “Lika, you are destined to break the heart of poor Sappho”. But in this case, Chekhov was a bad soothsayer. It’s not Lika’s superiority of his beauty and youth, and Chekhov’s own evil irony “Jumpers” will destroy the long romance of Levitan and Kuvshinnikova - for this you will need a completely different woman.

In the summer of 1894, Kuvshinnikova and Levitan, in the usual search for nature for landscapes, visited the Ushakovs Ostrovno estate, near Vyshny Volochyok. Their neighbors in the estate turned out to be the family of a major Petersburg official Turchaninov - his wife Anna Nikolaevna and three daughters Varvara, Sofia and Anna. Anna Nikolaevna was older than Levitan (Chekhov still guessed about the “Balzac age”), but she looked after herself very much, beauty surpassed her daughters in marriage, dressed elegantly in the latest metropolitan fashion and, which was not at all accepted in the village, painted her lips. Levitan began to go away allegedly on a hunt, but returned with an empty yagdash, Sofya Petrovna answered abruptly and abruptly. And very soon Kuvshinnikova realized that she had lost: the person whom she loved more than anything in the world did not choose her.

Sofya Petrovna left for her husband in Moscow, and Levitan moved to the Gork estate owned by Anna Nikolaevna, which he called "beloved wife Anka." It soon turns out that the eldest daughter of Turchaninova, 18-year-old Varvara, is also in love with Levitan. The competition between women will be fierce. Unable to withstand the agonizing situation, Levitan decides to settle accounts with life. He again, as well as shortly before the beginning of the affair with Kuvshinnikova, will shoot himself.

“I appeal to you with a great request at the insistence of the doctor who uses Isaac Ilyich, - conjured Anna Nikolaevna, who was not familiar to her personally, with Chekhov's letter. - Levitan suffers the most terrible melancholy, leading him to the most terrible state. In a moment of despair, he wanted to end his life on June 21. Fortunately, they managed to save him. Now the wound is no longer dangerous, but careful, cordial and friendly care is needed for Levitan. Knowing from conversations how close you are to Levitan, I decided to write to you, asking me to immediately come to the patient. The life of a person depends on your decision ... "
Chekhov in the fate of Levitan
Anna Nikolaevna Turchaninova (to the left of Levitan) and her eldest daughter Varvara.

But Levitan’s life no longer depended on Chekhov. Around this time, he was diagnosed with a heart disease - aortic enlargement. “His heart does not beat, but blows”, - Chekhov, who came to advise Levitan, will popularly explain in a letter to their mutual friend. Himself with rare courage transferring consciousness of the approaching death from tuberculosis, Chekhov will note in Levitan "An amazing thirst for life".

Levitan met his last New Year with the Chekhovs in Yalta. At the end of December 1899, he asked Maria Pavlovna to bring him a large piece of cardboard as soon as possible and quickly painted a lilac twilight sky, moon and silhouettes of stacks in the moonlight, while Chekhov, who always appreciated a friend’s painting, inserted an impromptu picture in a depression above the fireplace. This meeting was the last. In August 1900, Levitan will not.
Isaac Levitan. Twilight. Stack
Twilight. Stack
1899, 59×74 cm
Chekhov in the fate of Levitan

Chekhov in the interior of his office in the Yalta house. Cardboard with an author’s copy of Isaac Levitan’s “Racks” is inserted into a niche above the fireplace.
Osip (Joseph) Emmanuilovich Braz. Portrait Of Anton Pavlovich Chekhov
Portrait Of Anton Pavlovich Chekhov
1898, 80×120 cm

It is interesting that, considering Chekhov for 20 years (with the exception of three lost due to the "Jumpers") as his close friend and sending him almost weekly letters full of general jokes, worries about his health, secret thoughts and trust, Levitan is more never after youthful etude did Anton Pavlovich try to portray.

Pavel Tretyakov- through the mediation of Levitan - persuaded Chekhov to pose for the artist Osipu Brazu. Chekhov will react to the picture without sentiment: “They say that I and the tie are very similar, but the expression ... is like I sniffed a horseradish”. The writer will not be destined to find out that it’s not a Levitan sketch
A study is an exercise painting that helps the painter better understand the object he or she paints. It is simple and clear, like sample letters in a school student’s copybook. Rough and ready, not detailed, with every stroke being to the point, a study is a proven method of touching the world and making a catalogue of it. However, in art history, the status of the study is vague and open to interpretation. Despite its auxiliary role, a study is sometimes viewed as something far more significant than the finished piece. Then, within an impressive frame, it is placed on a museum wall.
So, when does a study remain a mere drill, and when can we call it an artwork in its own right, full of life and having artistic value? Read more
, but an “official” portrait of Braz’s work that will precede all the collections of his works and school reading books.

Title illustration: photo portraits of Isaac Levitan (in the upper row) and Anton Chekhov.

Author: Anna Yesterday
This text was originally published in Russian and automatically translated to English.