“Hygienic” vegetarianism by Ilya Repin

I. E. Repin

Among the artists who are rightfully considered to be among Tolstoy’s entourage and who became adherents of his teachings, as well as vegetarianism, the most prominent is undoubtedly Ilya Efimovich Repin (1844-1930).

Tolstoy appreciated Repin as a person and an artist, not least for his naturalness and peculiar naivety. On July 21, 1891, he wrote to both N. N. Ge (father and son): “Repin is a good artistic person, but completely raw, untouched, and he is unlikely to ever wake up.”

Repin was often enthusiastically recognized as a supporter of a vegetarian lifestyle. One such confession is found in a letter he wrote to I. Perper, the publisher of the Vegetarian Review, a little after Tolstoy’s death.

“In Astapovo, when Lev Nikolayevich felt better and he was given a glass of oatmeal with yolk for reinforcement, I wanted to shout from here: Not that! Not that! Give him a tasty seasoned herb broth (or good hay with clover). That’s what will restore his strength! I imagine how the honored authorities of medicine would smile, having just listened to the patient for half an hour and being confident in the nutritional value of eggs …

And I am delighted to celebrate a honeymoon of nutritious and delicious vegetable broths. I feel how the beneficial juice of herbs refreshes, purifies the blood and has a most healing effect on vascular sclerosis that has already begun very clearly. At the age of 67, with prosperity and a tendency to overeat, I already experienced significant ailments, oppression, heaviness, and especially some kind of emptiness in the stomach (especially after meat). And the more he ate, the more he starved internally. It was necessary to leave the meat – it became better. I switched to eggs, butter, cheeses, cereals. No: I have grown fat, I can no longer take my shoes off my feet; the buttons barely hold the accumulated fats: it’s hard to work … And now doctors Laman and Pasco (it seems they are from amateurs) – these are my saviors and enlighteners. N. B. Severova studied them and communicated their theories to me.

Eggs thrown out (meat already left). — Salads! How lovely! What a life (with olive oil!). A broth made from hay, from roots, from herbs – this is the elixir of life. Fruits, red wine, dried fruits, olives, prunes… nuts are energy. Is it possible to list all the luxury of a vegetable table? But herb broths are some fun. My son Yuri and N. B. Severova experience the same feeling. Satiety is full for 9 hours, you don’t feel like eating or drinking, everything is reduced – you can breathe more freely.

I remember the 60s: passion for extracts of Liebig’s meat (proteins, proteins), and by the age of 38 he was already a decrepit old man who had lost all interest in life.

How glad I am that I can work cheerfully again and all my dresses and shoes are free on me. Fats, lumps protruding from above the swollen muscles, are gone; my body was rejuvenated and I became more enduring in walking, stronger in gymnastics and much more successful in art – freshened up again. Ilya Repin.

Repin met Tolstoy already on October 7, 1880, when he visited him in an atelier in Bolshoy Trubny Lane in Moscow. Subsequently, a close friendship was established between them; Repin stayed at Yasnaya Polyana often, and sometimes for quite a long time; he created the famous “Repin series” of paintings and drawings of Tolstoy, and partly of his family. In January 1882, Repin painted a portrait of Tatyana L. Tolstaya in Moscow, in April of the same year he visited Tolstoy there; April 1, 1885 Tolstoy in a letter praises Repin’s painting “Ivan the Terrible and His Son” – a review that, obviously, greatly pleased Repin. And further paintings by Repin evoke praise from Tolstoy. January 4, 1887 Repin, together with Garshin, is present in Moscow during the reading of the drama “The Power of Darkness”. Repin’s first visit to Yasnaya Polyana takes place from August 9 to 16, 1887. From August 13 to August 15, he paints two portraits of the writer: “Tolstoy at his desk” (today in Yasnaya Polyana) and “Tolstoy in an armchair with a book in his hand” (today in Tretyakov Gallery). Tolstoy writes to P. I. Biryukov that during this time he was able to appreciate Repin even more. In September, Repin paints, based on sketches made in Yasnaya Polyana, the painting “L. N. Tolstoy on arable land. In October, Tolstoy praised Repin in front of N. N. Ge: “There was Repin, he painted a good portrait. <…> a living, growing person.” In February 1888, Tolstoy wrote to Repin with a request to write three drawings for books against drunkenness, published by the Posrednik publishing house.

From June 29 to July 16, 1891, Repin was again in Yasnaya Polyana. He paints the paintings “Tolstoy in the office under the arches” and “Tolstoy barefoot in the forest”, in addition, he models the bust of Tolstoy. Just at this time, between July 12 and 19, Tolstoy wrote the first edition of The First Step. On July 20, he informs I. I. Gorbunov-Posadov: “During this time I was overwhelmed by visitors – Repin, by the way, but I tried not to waste days, which are so few, and moved forward in work, and wrote in draft the entire article about vegetarianism, gluttony, abstinence.” On July 21, a letter to two Ge says: “Repin was with us all this time, he asked me to come <…>. Repin wrote from me in the room and in the yard and sculpted. <…> Repin’s bust is finished and molded and good <…>.”

On September 12, in a letter to N. N. Ge-son, Tolstoy expresses surprise:

“How ridiculous Repin. He writes letters to Tanya [Tatyana Lvovna Tolstaya], in which he diligently emancipates himself from the good influence on him of being with us.” Indeed, Repin, who no doubt knew that Tolstoy was working on the First Stage, wrote to Tatyana Lvovna on August 9, 1891: “I am a vegetarian with pleasure, I work, but I have never worked so successfully.” And already on August 20, another letter says: “I had to leave vegetarianism. Nature does not want to know our virtues. After I wrote to you, at night I had such a nervous trembling that the next morning I decided to order a steak – and it went away. Now I eat intermittently. Why, it’s hard here: bad air, margarine instead of butter, etc. Ah, if only we could move somewhere [from St. Petersburg]! But not yet.” Almost all of Repin’s letters at that time were addressed to Tatyana Lvovna. He is glad that she will be responsible for the art department of the Posrednik publishing house.

Repin’s transition to a vegetarian lifestyle for a long time will be a movement according to the “two steps forward – one back” scheme: “You know, sadly, I came to the final conclusion that I cannot exist without meat food. If I want to be healthy, I must eat meat; without it, the process of dying now immediately begins for me, as you saw me at your passionate meeting. I did not believe for a long time; and this way and that I tested myself and I see that it is impossible otherwise. Yes, in general, Christianity is not suitable for a living person.

Relations with Tolstoy in those years remained close. Tolstoy gave Repin a plot for writing the painting “Recruiting Recruits”; Repin writes to Tolstoy about the success of the play The Fruits of Enlightenment with the public: “Doctors, scientists and all intellectuals especially cry out against the title <...> But the audience … enjoys the theater, laughs until you drop and endures a lot of edifying bar about city life.” From February 21 to February 24, 1892, Repin was visiting Tolstoy in Begichevka.

On April 4, Repin again comes to Yasnaya Polyana, and also on January 5, 1893, when he paints a portrait of Tolstoy in watercolor for the Sever magazine. From January 5 to 7, Repin again in Yasnaya Polyana, asks Tolstoy about the plot. Tolstoy writes to Chertkov: “One of the most pleasant impressions of recent times was a meeting with Repin.”

And Repin admired Tolstoy’s treatise What is art? On December 9 of the same year, Repin and the sculptor Paolo Trubetskoy visited Tolstoy.

April 1, 1901 Repin draws another watercolor of Tolstoy. He is not entirely happy that Repin is again painting his portrait, but does not want to refuse him.

In May 1891, at the commandant of the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg, Repin first met Natalya Borisovna Nordman (1863-1914), with the writer’s pseudonym Severov – in 1900 she would become his wife. In her memoirs, N. B. Severova described this first meeting, and titled it “The First Meeting”. In August 1896, on the estate of Talashkino, owned by Princess M. K. Tenisheva, an art patron, another meeting between Nordman and Repin takes place. Nordman, after the death of his mother, acquires a plot in Kuokkala in the north-west of St. Petersburg and builds a house there, at first one-room, and later expanded with outbuildings; among them was the artist’s studio (for Repin). He was given the name “Penates”. In 1903, Repin settled there forever.

Since 1900, since the wedding of Repin with N. B. Nordman-Severova, his visits to Tolstoy have become less and less frequent. But his vegetarianism will be stricter. Repin reported this in 1912 in his article for that “album” of the Tashkent canteen “Toothless Nutrition”, which is published in the journal Vegetarian Review for 1910-1912. in several sequels; at the same time, other testimonies are repeated, two years earlier, immediately after the death of Tolstoy, included in a letter to I. Perper (see above, p. yy):

“At any moment I am ready to thank God that I have finally become a vegetarian. My first debut was around 1892; lasted two years – I failed and fainted under the threat of exhaustion. The second lasted 2 1/2 years, in excellent conditions, and was stopped at the insistence of the doctor, who forbade my friend [i.e. E. N. B. Nordman] to become a vegetarian: “meat is necessary” to feed diseased lungs. I stopped going vegetarian “for company”, and, for fear of becoming emaciated, I tried to eat as much as possible, and especially cheeses, cereals; began to get fat to the point of heaviness – it was harmful: food three times, with hot dishes.

The third period is the most conscious and the most interesting, thanks to moderation. Eggs (the most harmful food) are discarded, cheeses are eliminated. Roots, herbs, vegetables, fruits, nuts. Especially soups and broths made from nettles and other herbs and roots provide a wonderfully nutritious and powerful means of life and activity … But again I am in special living conditions: my friend has a talent for ingenuity and creativity to create unusually tasty dishes from the very garbage of the vegetable kingdom. All my guests admire my modest dinners with admiration and do not believe that the table is without slaughter and that it is so cheap.

I fill up with a modest two-course meal at 1 p.m. for the whole day; and only at half past 8 do I have a cold snack: lettuce, olives, mushrooms, fruits, and in general, that there is a little. Moderation is the happiness of the body.

I feel like never before; and most importantly, I lost all the extra fat, and the dresses all became loose, but before they were more and more tight; and I had a hard time getting my shoes on. He ate three times several hot dishes of all kinds and felt hungry all the time; and in the morning a depressing emptiness in the stomach. The kidneys worked poorly from the pepper to which I was accustomed, I began to grow heavier and decrepit noticeably at the age of 65 from excess nutrition.

Now, thank God, I have become lighter and, especially in the morning, I feel fresh and cheerful inside. And I have a childish appetite – or rather, a teenager: I eat everything with pleasure, just to refrain from excess. Ilya Repin.

In August 1905, Repin and his wife traveled to Italy. In Krakow, he paints her portrait, and in Italy, in the town of Fasano above Lago di Garda, on the terrace in front of the garden – another portrait – he is considered the best picture of Natalya Borisovna.

From 21 to 29 September both are staying at Yasnaya Polyana; Repin paints a portrait of Tolstoy and Sofya Andreevna. Nordman-Severova three years later will give a vivid description of these days. True, it does not say that Repin did not eat meat for two and a half years, but now he does it sometimes, because the doctors prescribed meat to Natalya Borisovna, otherwise she is allegedly threatened with consumption. On July 10, 1908, an open letter was published, in which Repin expressed his solidarity with Tolstoy’s manifesto against the death penalty: “I cannot be silent.”

The last visit of Repin and N. B. Nordman to Yasnaya Polyana took place on December 17 and 18, 1908. This meeting is also captured in a visual description given by Nordman. On the day of departure, the last joint photo of Tolstoy and Repin is taken.

In January 1911, Repin wrote his memoirs about Tolstoy. From March to June, he, along with Nordman, is in Italy at the world exhibition, where a special hall is assigned to his paintings.

Since November 1911, Repin has been an official member of the editorial board of the Vegetarian Review, he will remain so until the closing of the journal in May 1915. In the January issue of 1912, he publishes his notes on modern Moscow and its new vegetarian dining room called “Moscow Vegetarian Dining Room”:

“Before Christmas, I especially liked Moscow, where I got to set up our 40th Traveling Exhibition. How beautiful she has become! How much light in the evening! And what a mass of completely new majestic houses has grown; Yes, everything is in a new style! – And, moreover, artistic graceful buildings … Museums, kiosks for trams … And, especially in the evening, these trams melting with a hum, crackle, brilliance – dousing you with often blinding sparks of electricity – trams! How it enlivens the streets, already full of hustle and bustle – especially before Christmas … And, solemnly defiling – shining halls, carriages, especially on Lubyanka Square, take you somewhere to Europe. Though the old Muscovites grumble. In these rings of iron snake-rails they already see the ghosts of the undoubted demise of the world, because the Antichrist already lives on earth and entangles it more and more with the chains of hell … After all, it takes trembling: in front of the Spassky Gates, in front of St. Basil the Blessed and other shrines of Moscow, they defiantly squeal all day and all night – when all the “non-vain ones” are already sleeping, they rush (here too!) With their demonic fires … The last times! …

Everyone sees it, everyone knows it; and my goal is to describe in this letter something that not everyone, even Muscovites, knows yet. And these are not external objective objects that nourish only the eyes, spoiled by beauty; I want to tell you about a delicious, satisfying, vegetarian table that fed me all week, a vegetarian canteen, in Gazetny Lane.

At the mere recollection of this pretty, bright courtyard, with two entrance gates, on two wings, I am drawn to go there again, to mingle with the continuous line of those going there and the same returning, already well-fed and cheerful, mostly young people, of both sexes, most of the students – Russian students – the most respectable, most significant environment of our fatherland <…>.

The order of the dining room is exemplary; in the front dressing room, nothing was ordered to be paid. And this has a serious meaning, in view of the special influx of insufficient students here. Climbing up the two-winged staircase from the entrance, to the right and to the left, a large corner of the building is occupied by cheerful, bright rooms set with laid tables. The walls of all rooms are hung with photographic portraits of Leo Tolstoy, of different sizes and in different turns and poses. And at the very end of the rooms, to the right – in the reading room there is a huge life-size portrait of Leo Tolstoy on a gray, dappled horse riding through the Yasnaya Polyana forest in autumn (portrait of Yu. I. Igumnova). All rooms are set up with tables covered with a clean and fairly sufficient serving of the necessary cutlery and baskets, with various kinds of bread, of a special, pleasant and satisfying taste, which is baked only in Moscow.

The choice of food is quite sufficient, but this is not the main thing; and the fact that the food, no matter what you take, is so tasty, fresh, nutritious that it involuntarily breaks off the tongue: why, this is a delicious meal! And so, every day, all week, while I lived in Moscow, I already with special pleasure aspired to this incomparable dining room. Hasty business and failure to arrange an exhibition at the Museum forced me to be in the Vegetarian canteen at different hours; and during all the hours of my arrival, the dining room was just as full, bright and cheerful, and its dishes were all different – they were: one was tastier than the other. < … > And what kvass!”

It is interesting to compare this description with the story of Benedikt Livshits about Mayakovsky’s visit to the same canteen. (cf. s. yy). Repin, by the way, reports that before leaving Moscow he met P. I. Biryukov in the dining room: “Only on the last day and already leaving, I met P. I. Biryukov, who even lives in the same apartment, the house of the heirs of . Shakhovskaya. — Tell me, I ask, where did you find such a wonderful cook? Charm! – Yes, we have a simple woman, a Russian woman cook; when she came to us, she didn’t even know how to cook vegetarian. But she quickly got used to it and now (after all, she needed a lot of assistants with us; You see how many visitors) she quickly learns her henchmen. And our products are the best. Yes, I see it – a miracle how clean and tasty. I do not eat sour cream and butter, but by accident these products were served to me in my dishes and I, as they say, licked my fingers. Very, very tasty and great. Build the same dining room in St. Petersburg, there is no good one – I convince him. Why, big funds are needed … Me: Why, this is the right thing to do. Is there really no one with a fortune to help?.. Il. Repin. Obviously, there were none – one of the biggest obstacles to Russian vegetarianism, even at the time of its prosperity before the First World War, was the lack of wealthy patrons-philanthropists.

The photograph of the dining room that so delighted Repin in December 1911 was reproduced in VO (as well as above, see ill. yy) Moscow Vegetarian Society, which last year was visited by more than 30 people, by August 1911st was transferred to a new building in Gazetny Lane. In view of the success of this canteen, the society plans to open a second cheap canteen for the people in the fall, the idea of ​​which was of interest to the late L. N. Tolstoy. And the Voice of Moscow published a detailed article, including an interview with the Treasurer of the Moscow Military District and an announcement that 72 people dine in this “grand canteen” every day.

From the memoirs of the writer K. I. Chukovsky, friendly with Repin, we know that the artist also visited vegetarian canteens in St. Petersburg. Chukovsky, especially since 1908, both in St. Petersburg and in Kuokkala, was in live contact with Repin and Nordman-Severova. He talks about visiting the “canteen” behind the Kazan Cathedral: “There we had to stand in line for a long time and for bread, and for dishes, and for some kind of tin coupons. Pea cutlets, cabbage, potatoes were the main baits in this vegetarian canteen. A two-course dinner cost thirty kopecks. Among students, clerks, petty officials, Ilya Efimovich felt like his own person.

Repin, in letters to friends, does not cease to advocate vegetarianism. So, in 1910, he persuaded D. I. Yavornitsky not to eat meat, fish and eggs. They are harmful to humans. On December 16, 1910, he wrote to V. K. Byalynitsky-Birulya: “As for my nutrition, I have reached the ideal (of course, this is not the same for everyone): I have never felt so vigorous, young and efficient. Here are disinfectants and restorers !!!… And meat – even meat broth – is poison to me: I suffer for several days when I eat in the city in some restaurant … And my herbal broths, olives, nuts and salads restore me with incredible speed.

After the death of Nordman on June 30, 1914 in Orselin near Locarno, Repin went to Switzerland. In the Vegetarian Review, he published a detailed account of the deceased companion of his life, about her character, her activities in Kuokkala, her literary work and the last weeks of her life in Orselino. “Natalya Borisovna was the strictest vegetarian – to the point of holiness”; she believed in the possibility of healing with the “solar energy” contained in grape juice. “On a high rise from Locarno to Orselino, in a heavenly landscape above Lake Maggiore, in a small rural cemetery, above all the magnificent villas <…> lies our strict vegetarian. She hears the anthem of this lush vegetable kingdom to the Creator. And her eyes look through the earth with a blissful smile into the blue sky, with which she, beautiful as an angel, in a green dress, lay in a coffin, covered with marvelous flowers of the south … “

The testament of N. B. Nordman was published in the Vegetarian Bulletin. The “Penates” villa in Kuokkale, which belonged to her, was bequeathed to I. E. Repin for life, and after his death it was intended for the device of “I. E. Repin’s house”. Kuokkala from 1920 to 1940 and then from 1941 until the capitulation of Finland was on Finnish territory – but since 1944 this area has been called Repino. A huge collection of paintings by N. B. Nordman, several hundred works by the most famous Russian as well as foreign painters and sculptors were of great value. All this was bequeathed to the future Repin Museum in Moscow. The First World War and the revolution prevented the implementation of this plan, but there is a “Museum-estate of I. E. Repin Penata” in Repino.

The Prometheus Theater in Kuokkala, also owned by N. B. Nordman, as well as two villas in Ollila, were designated for educational purposes. Witnesses in the preparation of the will were, among others, the actress (and princess) L. B. Baryatinskaya-Yavorskaya and the sculptor Paolo Trubetskoy.

Only recently, one of the last witnesses died, recalling this center of Russian culture from early childhood – D.S. Likhachev: “On the border with Ollila (now Solnechnoye) there were Repin Penates. Near Penat, K. I. Chukovsky built a summer house for himself (I. E. Repin helped him in this – both with money and advice). In certain summer seasons, Mayakovsky lived, Meyerhold came over, <...> Leonid Andreev, Chaliapin and many others came to Repin. <...> At charity performances, they tried to amaze with surprises <...> But there were also “serious” performances. Repin read his memoirs. Chukovsky read Crocodile. Repin’s wife introduced herbs and herbalism.”

Chukovsky is convinced that Repin, upon his return from Switzerland, allegedly declared that a different order would continue to reign in the Penates: “First of all, Ilya Efimovich abolished the vegetarian regime and, on the advice of doctors, began to eat meat in small quantities.” It is not surprising that doctors gave such advice, but that there is no trace of vegetarianism is unbelievable. Mayakovsky complained back in the summer of 1915 that he was forced to eat “Repin’s herbs” in Kuokkala … David Burliuk and Vasily Kamensky also talk about vegetarian menus in the year after Nordman’s death. Burliuk writes about February 18, 1915:

“<...> Everyone, hurried by Ilya Efimovich and Tatyana Ilyinichnaya, looking up from the conversations started between the newly-acquainted people, set off towards the notorious vegetarian carousel. I sat down and began to carefully study this machine from the side of its mechanism, as well as from the content items.

Thirteen or fourteen people sat down at a large round table. In front of each was a full instrument. There were no servants, according to the aesthetics of the Penates, and the entire meal was ready-made on a smaller round table, which, like a carousel, towering a quarter, was in the middle of the main one. The round table at which the diners sat and the cutlery stood was motionless, but the one on which the dishes (exclusively vegetarian) stood was equipped with handles, and each of those present could turn it by pulling the handle, and thus put any of the dishes in front of them. .

Since there were a lot of people, it could not do without curiosities: Chukovsky wants salted mushrooms, grabs onto the “carousel”, pulls the mushrooms towards him, and at this time the Futurists gloomily try to bring a whole tub of sauerkraut, deliciously sprinkled with cranberries and lingonberries, closer to them.

The famous round table in the salon “Penates” is depicted on the flyleaf of this book.

Repin spent the last thirty years of his life in Kuokkala, which at that time belonged to Finland. Chukovsky managed to visit Repin, then already eighty years old, on January 21, 1925, and at the same time see his former house again. He reports that Repin is apparently still committed to his ideas of simplification: from June to August he sleeps in a dovecote. Chukovsky poses the question “is he a vegetarian now?” We do not find an answer in the diary, but the following episode is not without interest in this sense: a little earlier, a certain doctor, Dr. Sternberg, allegedly the chairman of the Kuindzhi society, visited Repin, accompanied by a lady and urged him to move to the Soviet Union – they promised him a car, an apartment, 250 rubles of salary … Repin flatly refused. As a gift, they brought him – in January from the Soviet Union – a basket of fruit – peaches, tangerines, oranges, apples. Repin tasted these fruits, but in view of the fact that he, like his daughter Vera, spoiled his stomach in the process, he considered it necessary to check these fruits at the Biochemical Institute in Helsinki. He was afraid that they wanted to poison him …

Repin’s vegetarianism, as the texts cited here show, was based primarily on health considerations, it had a “hygienic” motivation. Strictness to himself, a penchant for Spartanism, bring him closer to Tolstoy. In a draft of an unfinished article about Tolstoy, Repin praises Tolstoy’s asceticism: “Walking: after a quick 2-mile walk, completely sweaty, hastily throwing off his simple dress, he rushes into the cold key dam of the river in Yasnaya Polyana. I dressed without drying myself, as water droplets hold oxygen – the body breathes through pores.

Since the late 1870s, Repin himself has always slept with the window open, on the advice of a young Moscow doctor, even in the cold. In addition, he was, like Tolstoy, a tireless worker. He skimped on his working time. Chukovsky reports that in addition to a large atelier, Repin also had a small workshop, to which he usually went. Between 1 and 2 o’clock a modest lunch was delivered to him through a small window in the door: a radish, a carrot, an apple and a glass of his favorite tea. If I had gone to the dining room, I would have always lost 20 minutes. This time- and money-saving solitude at his vegetarian table was once considered useful by 16-year-old Benjamin Franklin. But Repin had to abandon this practice in 1907 on the advice of a doctor, and the window was closed.

The question of how the influence of N. B. Nordman on Repin remained controversial for a long time. I. Grabar in 1964 expressed the opinion that Nordman’s influence was not beneficial and in no way stimulated Repin’s work; the artist himself allegedly began to eventually become weary of her guardianship and was not too upset when she died in 1914. Mysterious, according to Grabar, remains the fact of the early decline of Repin’s work:

“In the 900s, his statements and actions began to take on a strange, almost childish character. Everyone remembers Repin’s passion for hay and his ardent propaganda of this “best food for man.” <...> He gave all his fiery temperament, all his passion not to painting, but to Natalia Borisovna. <...> from an atheist, mocking religious prejudices, he gradually turns into a religious person. <...> What was begun by Nordman-Severova was completed after the revolution by Russian emigrants surrounding Repin <...>. In contrast to this judgment, I. S. Zilberstein wrote in 1948 about the first years in Kuokkala: “This period of Repin’s life is still waiting for its researcher, who will establish the significance of Nordman in Repin’s life and work. But even now it can be argued that Repin never painted or painted anyone as often as Nordman. A huge gallery of images, made by Repin for more than thirteen years of their life together, embraces dozens of oil portraits and hundreds of drawings. It so happened that only a part of these portraits and drawings ended up in the USSR, and the part was not very significant.

Repin kept the best portraits of Nordman and sketches from her in Penates until the last years of his life. The dining room invariably hung that portrait of Nordman, which was made by Repin in the very first weeks of their acquaintance, during their stay in Tyrol in 1900, where Repin, together with Natalya Borisovna, went after meeting in Paris.

This portrait is visible on the right corner of the photograph of 1915, where Repin was taken with his guests, among them V.V. Mayakovsky (cf. book cover). Mayakovsky then wrote his poem “A Cloud in Pants” in Kuokkala.

Also, K. I. Chukovsky, who closely observed the life of Repin and Nordman for several years (since 1906), sees the ratio of these two strong characters rather positively. Nordman, he says, brought order to Repin’s life (in particular, by restricting visits to “famous Wednesdays”); since 1901 she began to collect all the literature about his work. And Repin himself repeatedly admitted that he owed one of his most brilliant successes – the composition of the “State Council” (written 1901-1903) to N.B. , reports one crisis in their marriage in October 46 – Repin then wanted to get a divorce.

Leave a Reply