In 1876, Repin returned from France to Russia. The first winter Repin spend in the parents’ house in Chuguevo. “I did not make a mistake that I came here for the winter,” he writes to Stasov, “Only in winter the people live freely with all interests, urban, political and family… And Chuguev himself is a pure treasure… A wonderful snow fell, the road is shiny… I have a sheepskin coat, a fur coat, a snowstorm, a road disappeared, rode along signs… Ah, you have not experienced this pleasure “
In Chuguev Repin painted a portrait of his godfather Ivan Fedorovich Radov, a goldsmith and a jeweler, similar to the old Greek god Zeus. It is not important that the common poplar is on powerful shoulders, that we do not see a torso open, like in Hellas. Ivan Fyodorovich leaned his back against the golden blasting air. Toward the sunset cloud? The ray of the evening sun flows from right to left – low along the brown, fixed eyes – and illuminates their pensive depth; the head is full of... silver coils, heavy as ingots; gray beard breathes; sable black eyebrows lie quietly on a broad forehead. No, this is not a portrait of a specific person! Before us, epic, think, an old fairy tale. Before us is a legend.
Repin called this canvas “A man with a bad eye”, which indicated the ability of his Zeus to conjure.
In 1878, at the International Exhibition in Paris, the picture aroused general admiration. In the catalog it was listed as “The Mystery of the Muzhik with the Evil Eye”.
“Repin has the ability to make a Russian peasant exactly what he is,” Kramskoy wrote to Stasov at the end of 1876. “I know many artists depicting peasants, and it’s good even, but none of them could ever be done approximately as well as Repin: Unless Vasnetsov has this side, I, for example, try to honestly pass on something, and I can not not see the difference. “Even Perov, the man is lighter in weight than he really is, only Repin has the same mighty power. .. as it really is “