In 1885, Kramskoy takes care of Repin, defends his “Ivan the Terrible,” which reminded the Russians of the fate of the heroes of the Narodnaya Volya. And in the same year he painted a portrait of Vladimir Solovyov, who bravely opposed the death penalty of the First Martovites. The philosopher and poet Vladimir Sergeevich Soloviev is the son of a famous historian.
March 28, 1881, Vladimir Soloviev read a public lecture, in which he urged to pardon the murderers of Alexander II. For this he was permanently suspended from teaching.
The portrait of Solovyov is unusually beautiful. An elegant figure in a dark against the background of a carved chair. A thin face, a powerful forehead under beautiful dark hair, thinly carved nostrils, deep dark eyes. The dark ultramarine is blinded by a blue flame in this portrait: a blue suit, black and blue hair. This ultramarine in years will use Vrubel for his “Demons.”
Kramskoy was a unique portrait painter whose art exerted a formative influence on many Russian artists. Kramskoy taught not to look at the model, but to see its essence. He... has managed to see and transmit a lot in a portrait, the refinement of which subtly resembles the beauty of Soloviev’s theocratic utopias, and the lines of philosophical verses of the forerunner of Russian symbolism. Late aesthetic writings are not yet written, full of hopes that Sofia – wisdom and beauty, the embodiment of the idea of total-unity will save the world, and Kramskoy already sees a thin hand hanging from the armrest, the brokenness of a slim figure, the irony in her gaze. As if, having outlived their hopes and disappointments, looks into the future of the person sitting before him, he foresees the anticipated bitterness of the spiritual crisis.
Some strange black-violet glow emanated from Kramsky’s canvas. Repin. who saw this work of the great portraitist, was shocked by the depth of the man’s research: “Ah, Ivan Nikolaevich, what can you do, why are you telling us all!”
Years passed, and Valentin Serov read Repin poetry Vladimir Solovyov, which Repin took over immediately and often pronounced them in old age. “This is a poem about the art of a portrait,” Repin said.