Mikhail Nesterov wrote in 1940 in the preface to his memoirs: “I avoided portraying strong passions, preferring to our quiet landscape, a person living in inner life, and in my portraits written in recent years, I was attracted to those people whose path was a reflection of thoughts, feelings, their deeds. “
Throughout his life Nesterov was familiar and close to many prominent creators of Russian culture – writers, artists, scientists and artists. With great excitement, as if re-experiencing the past, he writes in his book “Long Days” about his meetings and conversations with L. Tolstoy. M. Gorky, V. Surikov. I. Kramskiy. I. Levitan. P. Tretyakov. In small novels, many characters are fluent, sharp and convex with the skill of an observer and a psychologist: the universal darling Kostya Korovin, the inspired actress Strepetova, “jealous” to her glory V. Vereshchagin. “wonderful old man” I. Pavlov.
Many of those with whom Nesterov was close became... models for his portraits.
Quite another “brilliant old man” I. Pavlov – a physiologist, an academician, a thinker. Swift, temperamental, he infected everyone with his energy, inner pressure. Young fervor, a whirlwind of words and gestures – this was the first time Nesterov saw him and was able to show his youthful youth, the boiling of life in him, the passion of the experimenter, the scientist, the fighter.
The process of comprehension of the model was very active. It was not just observation, it was “getting into” the model, it was important for him to find the features of his inner affinity with her, to establish some kind of psychological and rhythmic resonance. And, probably, precisely because he himself was an inspired artist, he managed so convincingly to convey the creative burning of his characters. He was able to assess the energy and efficiency of Pavlov, himself idle for an easel for 8 hours.