IE Repin, who was very fond of music, painted portraits of many outstanding musicians. The portrait of the composer and conductor Anton Grigorievich Rubinstein, who was a friend of the artist, Repin wrote many times. The last portrait was written from 1909 to 1915 after the death of the composer.
This portrait is solemn, monumental. The artist slightly lifts his model, thereby enhancing the feeling of splendor. The same effect is promoted and the chosen red-gold scale of a picture. When writing a portrait, Repin uses an energetic manner of writing, with distinct, form-fitting strokes, and somewhat softens the outlines.
The figure of Rubinstein is given in full growth, the background is the Petersburg Concert Hall filled with spectators. The conductor is shown in minutes of work, at the time of creative inspiration, behind the conductor’s panel. The high figure of Rubinstein is given in a complex and energetic turn. Very expressive is the head of a musician with a lush dark head of hair, as if raised by inspiration.
The face of the composer – with sharp creases at the lips and a stare, penetrating through, a glance – reflects his nervous trembling, exaltation, immersion in music. A huge internal force is visible in the line of the shoulders and in the stroke of the hand, in the outline of the willful mouth and – especially – in the demonic expression of the eyes. The portrait leaves a feeling of tremendous creative tension.
Repin managed to accurately convey on the canvas character, the spiritual content of his model. And the pose, and the expressive gesture of the hand, and the eyes – all this fully reflects the impulsive, strong character of the musician and his performing and conducting style.