Russian Art

Kustodiev, B. M. Fiodor Ivanovich Chaliapin, Portrait. 1922

Portrait of Fiodor Ivanovich Chaliapin. This celebrated portrait of the great singer, Chaliapin, is notable for the figure's swaggering pose and unusual viewpoint -- looking up at the subject who stands on a snowy slope above a wonderfully active winter village scene. Chaliapin wrote of Kustodiev and this particular painting that, "I have known many excellent gifted men and women in my time, but if I ever met a man of truly noble spiritual stature, it was Kustodiev . . . I treasure his famous portrait of me in my study as my most precious gem." It is interesting to compare Kustodiev's marvelous interpretation of the preeminent bass with the relaxed, Impressionist portrait by Korovin painted in 1911 (see ImageBase). Both paintings give a sense of the carriage of the singer, a very imposing man whose physical stature and personality usually dominated a casual gathering as well as a staged presentation. (00493)
Copyright ©. George Mitrevski. Auburn University.