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Portrait of the Artist Feodor Ivanovich Shalyapin

Painting, 1911, 65×81 cm

Description of the artwork «Portrait of the Artist Feodor Ivanovich Shalyapin»

Portrait of Feodor Shalyapin 1911, written by Korovin, quite rightly considered one of the best images of the artist. Korovin wrote a few more portraits of a friend (1, 2).

Familiar Korovin and Chaliapin obliged patron Savva Mamontov: In 1896, at the Nizhny Novgorod exhibition, the artist designed the Mamontov Pavilion dedicated to the Far North, and the famous singer spoke to distinguished guests there. They quickly became friends and became almost inseparable. Shalyapin even built a cottage near the Korovin estate in Okhotino. The artist designed many performances of the artist, created costumes and scenery. And, by the way, taught him to draw. According to Korovin, Shalyapin had a "remarkable talent of a draftsman and painter."

This portrait of Korovin wrote in the French town of Vichy - there they met on vacation in 1911. Later he sold the painting to collector Tereshchenko, which, according to some information, terribly outraged the singer. However, soon bosom friends made it up.

This portrait is typical enough for Korovin. Etude style, creating the effect of incompleteness, a wide, light smear, bold handling of paints and, of course, the sun. Chaliapin literally flooded with sunlight that penetrates through the open window. And since we are dealing with Impressionism in Russian, the portrait is also characterized by its own character, psychology. Generous strokes quite convey the excitement, freedom-loving, strong nature of Chaliapin. The face and figure are depicted collectively, but at the same time quite characteristic. The background, on the contrary, is written smoothed. The gorgeous detail is the dangling right arm, it is the whole story that the posing is relaxed right now and is pleased with life in general. The etude of the image does not contradict this expressiveness.

The artist is depicted at the table - bouquets of flowers, a decanter with soda, an absolutely vital atmosphere, the very impressionistic “stop, a moment”. But nevertheless the hero here is himself depicted, and not light and color contrasts. Looking at him, in this twinkling of light, in the interweaving of color, we read his impetuosity, sincere openness, we notice even the notes of narcissism, we feel contentment, joy of life and ecstasy by the very fact of being.

The color of the painting is based on a comparison of the warm, ocher tones of the room and the cold green and white shades of the blossoming tree. In the image of Chaliapin, they unite: warmed by the sun, the warm hue of the suit carries the cold blotches of white. Korovin was prone to polygarnish, and this picture is a beautiful illustration. In it, we see elements of a portrait, landscape, still life - everything emphasizes the colorful image of the hero.

Some conjectures, guesses and legends on the topic. In emigration, the relationship between Korovin and Chaliapin went wrong. There is a version that the cause of the accident that happened to the son of Korovin. Allegedly, it was in Berlin, and Alexey saved Chaliapin's daughter, but he himself suffered, having lost either one or both legs. However, the archives of the Tretyakov Gallery kept a medical report on the injury that Alexei Korovin received back in Moscow. He stumbled, climbing the tram step, and his foot was cut off. He needed a prosthesis and remained lame for the rest of his life. What does Chaliapin have to do with it? The fact is that immediately after the incident, the young man was taken to the apartment of his father's friend, Fyodor Shalyapin, since she was nearby, and he was sent to the hospital from there.

Although the rumor about the rescue of Shalyapin’s daughter by Korovin’s son is unreliable, the quarrels for Chaliapin and Korovin were commonplace, as both could be quite hot-tempered. The chill in relationships is explained by far simpler reasons: their life after leaving Soviet Russia was very different. Chaliapin had success, performances around the world, full of halls. And Korovin was constantly in a bondage dependence on unscrupulous gallery owners, mired in family, hard-going affairs, suffered from not ending lack of money. They continued to communicate, but less and less.

Author: Alena Grosheva
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Portrait

Style of art: Impressionism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1911

Size: 65×81 cm

Artwork in selections: 34 selections