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Valentin Serov is one of the most famous Russian artists, who has become famous throughout Russia and the world for portraits in which he captured the intelligentsia of his time. Serov painted many portraits commissioned by the collector Tretyakov, and with N.S. Leskov, the artist began to work specifically for the gallery patron.
In 1894, months before the death of the famous writer, Valentin Serov wrote his portrait. It was this image that was destined to become iconic and capture the image of Leskov for future generations, because even after a hundred years the majority remembers what the writer looked like, precisely thanks to this portrait of Serov.
The portrait is quite typical for the artist’s brush. The central arrangement of the figure, with the capture of the shoulders and chest, but with cropped hands (unlike earlier portraits). Neutral dark background is also not an innovative solution, and fits well into the composition of the picture. But the main thing is her hero himself.
A long-gray writer whose face expresses the burden of his years. As you know, in the portraits of Serov, the eyes of the people depicted are always important. And Leskov’s eyes are truly fascinating. The writer looks carefully, patiently and warmly, thus disposing the viewer to himself, and telling his story.
It is known that Leskov was already sick when a portrait was created. Knowing this fact, his strong and unbroken look seems even more impressive. The picture itself seems very simple, both in composition and in color.
Indeed, it does not have unnecessary details and interior elements, and the color consists only of shades of several colors, but such "simplicity" fits the writer’s lifestyle and emphasizes his age.
Portrait of N.S. Leskova deservedly took one of the places of honor in the Tretyakov Gallery, which he called "portraits of famous Russian figures of art and science."