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Portraits from the ‘Album of Natalia Nordman-Severova’


The memorial museum is hosting an exhibition of digital images of portraits created by Ilya Repin during 1906 and 1916 at his manor ‘Penates’. These 24 portraits were kept by Natalia Nordman-Severova (1863-1914) and the artist himself as an ‘album’ that nowadays does not exist as a solid piece: many portraits are now located in different museum and private collections.

The title ‘the Album of Natalia Nordman-Severova’ was given to this collection of graphic portraits by the artist while he was preparing to display them at the international exhibition in Rome in 1911.  In fact this series of works Ilya Repin was merely dedicated to Natalia Nordman-Severova who also became an ‘album’ keeper.

The ‘album’ consists of portraits of people who used to visit the most famous artistic manor in the early 20th century ‘Penates’. Each guest had a warm welcome as the mistress of the manor, Natalia Nordman-Severova, was known for great hospitality. The artist Ilya Repin was also open for various cultural dialogues; the guests were happy to pose as a model for a great artist’s sketches and paintings. Not only were written their names by the artist’s hand, but their occupations as well. Often their autographs were also placed on the works.

Among the guests there were a renowned art critic V. Stasov, writer M. Gorky and A. Kuprin, N. Gagarin-Mikhailovsky. Many artists visited Repin’s manor: V. Polenov, I. Brodsky, V. Kustodiev, F. Malyavin, N. Feshin as well as musicians: Ts. Kui, A. Lyadov, A. Glazunov, B. Afanasiev. In the 1910s the avant-garde poets V. Mayakovsky and D. Burluk, philosophers V. Rosanov and S. Kablukov, scientists V. Bekhterev and I. Pavlov used to visit ‘Penates’. And this is only a glimpse of the amount of outstanding people who happened to be portrayed by the living classic Ilya Repin and whose portraits eventually became a part of the ‘album’.

The first time this collection of portraits as a solid piece and with such detailed annotations was presented was 2009: it was shown in the framework of the 110s anniversary of the manor ‘Penates’. Today’s exposition has been enriched with two more recently discovered portraits by Ilya Repin: a portrait of a writer B. Lazarevsky and a portrait of an activist and a friend E. Neratova. 

The sketches displayed help us create a fuller picture of Repin’s oeuvre in general and his mastery as a graphic artist and a portraitist in particular.   

 

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