Forgotten Pasternak, Boris’s father: 10 facts about the artist for whom Tolstoy and Einstein posed
“... his gigantic merits are not even appreciated in a hundredth part”Boris Pasternak wrote about his father: "Dad! But, after all, this is a sea full of tears, sleepless nights and, if I could write it down, it’d take volumes, volumes, volumes. Surprise at the perfection of his skill and gift, at the ease of his work (jokingly and playfully, like Mozart), at the multiplicity and significance of what he had done — the surprise is all the more lively and hot, since comparisons on all these points shame and humiliate me. I wrote to him that one should not be offended that his gigantic merits were not even appreciated in a hundredth part, while I have to burn out with shame when my role is so monstrously inflated and overestimated… I wrote to dad… which, in the final analysis, triumphs yet he, he, who lived such a true, nonfictional, interesting, full, rich life, partly in his blessed 19th century, partly in loyalty to it, and not in the wild, devastated the unreal and fraudulent twentieth…"
Descendant of King DavidLeonid Pasternak was born in April 1862 in Odesa. He was the youngest child in a large Jewish family. Apparently, out of an excess of feelings, his parents named him two names at once — Abram and Isaac. However, they only called him Leonid at home. On this occasion, the artist even had to write explanatory notes in official institutions. By the way, the family name originally sounded not Pasternak, but Posternak.
Posternak the Elder kept an inn, the mother ran the house, she was an illiterate, but intelligent and strong-willed woman. The Pasternaks believed that they were descendants of the Abarbanels. It is one of the oldest and most respected Jewish families, which descended from King David.
Janitor the patron
The parents dreamed that their son would become "a pharmacist, or a doctor, or, at worst, ‘an intercessor on business'," as the artist later recalled. But most of all, the boy strove to draw, and he had to do it secretly from his father and mother. The most readily available medium was charcoal.
Favourite student of von HerterichThe parents wanted to see their son as a doctor or lawyer. Leonid Pasternak entered the Faculty of Medicine at Moscow University. Michelagelo himself would have envied him. But what attracted the great sculptor repelled our hero — the anatomy. Leonid Pasternak could not overcome his aversion to corpses, but he studied that part of anatomy that an artist needed. Then he transferred to the law faculty of Moscow University, and then to Odesa, or rather Novorossiysk University. Odesa University (the only one in the empire) gave students the right to travel abroad. Pasternak used this right and went to enter the competition at the Munich Royal Academy. And he passed as the number one! He studied in the class of the famous draftsman Ludwig von Herterich.
The Army MuseThe next stage in the life of the young artist was a year of military service. The first large canvas was painted under the impression of the army. Pavel Tretyakov acquired The Letter from the Motherland unfinished painting for his famous gallery straight from the easel.
Children will feed their parentsLeonid Pasternak married the famous pianist Rosa Kaufman. The young family settled in Moscow, a year later the first son was born — the future Nobel Prize winner, writer Boris Pasternak. Then a son Alexander and two daughters, Josephine and Lydia, were born.
The first Russian ImpressionistPasternak was the first Russian artist to call himself an Impressionist. At the same time, according to art critic Elizaveta Plavinskaya, he was not afraid of a cool attitude of the Itinerants towards the
The favourite illustrator of Tolstoy
The first Russian in the Luxembourg Museum
Albert Einstein as a modelLeonid Pasterkak painted a series of portraits of Albert Einstein. They met in Berlin at the Soviet embassy. They went there to listen to a concert, a lecture, watch a short theatrical performance or take part in casual communication. It was one time when Rosa Pasternak was playing the piano, and someone asked her if she could accompany Einstein. However, Einstein objected. He said: "I will not dare to perform after such a master!" "Nevertheless, my mother persuaded him. And he really played, and she accompanied him. And my father sketched it. Thus, there appeared a sheet with a picture of Einstein playing the violin," recalled Lydia, Pasternak’s daughter. Einstein and Pasternak kept in touch for many years. The result was a series of portraits of the great scientist.
Founder of Leniniana
You can’t rewrite history: Leonid Pasternak is considered one of the founders of Leniniana. He was the first of the academicist artists to capture Lenin and other leaders of the revolution, making sketches at congresses, presidiums and congresses. However, many of these portraits, like their models, were destroyed by the new government afterwards.