Russian Artworks Painting 19th Century Late 19th Century Realism Portrait of Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin

Portrait of Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin

Artist: Ilya Repin
Date: 1876
Media: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 106 x 88 cm
Ownership: Russian Museum, St Petersburg
Glavnauka, Leningrad (until 1925)
Style: Realism
Portrait of Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin


Ilya Repin claimed that this portrait of fellow Realist artist Ivan Shishkin was painted in St Petersburg “in two sittings, with intervals”. This explains why there are two inscriptions in the bottom right – one in red paint and one in black paint.

This work was a new step in Ilya Repin’s art towards a more psychological interpretation of the image. The choice of pose is particularly successful – the artist bends forwards slightly with his arms crossed and resting on his knees.

The face of the sitter stands out against the muted background of green and brown. While seeming to be listening intently to someone speaking to him, the subject of the portrait remains firmly in the grip of his own concerns and reflections.

The portrait is painted over a landscape, suggesting that Repin originally intended to depict Shishkin among his beloved nature, but then changed his mind. This is possibly connected to recent unhappy events in the subject’s private life.

Between 1873 and 1875, Shishkin buried his father, wife and two small sons. In the words of Ivan Kramskoi, he became “coarse” and lost his usual good humour and spirit. Repin’s downcast and self-immersed image reflects this state of mind.

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