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The painting was created in the period 1877-1878, is in storage at the State Tretyakov Gallery.
The artwork was created on the initiative of the legendary Russian collector Pavel Tretyakov, when the great poet was already very sick. The patron ordered the portrait of Nekrasov to the outstanding master of realistic portrait Ivan Kramsky, and the artist eagerly agreed. However, the poor condition of the poet did not make it possible to work at full strength - the painter had to take care of the sick almost all the time.
In addition, the customer rejected the idea of depicting the poet in such a sad form.
When Nekrasov felt a little better, the painter painted his famous chest portrait. However, the portrait painter wanted to capture for posterity the strength of the spirit of the great Russian poet - even when he died, he did not stop working on the collection “Last Songs”.
On canvas, Nekrasov is depicted at the time of creative inspiration. The illness forced him to be in bed, but could not destroy the craving for creativity. The poet is half sitting, leaning on high pillows. Near the bed is a small bookcase with medicines, scribbled sheets of paper. Closer to the bed, a bell is placed on a shelf to call an assistant if necessary. On the carpet is a piece of paper next to slippers.
While working on the portrait, Kramskoy slightly changed the interior of the room: from the wall, the seriously ill poet, the images of Dobrolyubov and Mitskevich, were morally supported, and Belinsky’s bust was placed at the head of the room. The scenery was supposed to enhance the image of the unbroken spirit of the dying. The picture has several features.
The attentive viewer notices several strange stripes, as if the canvas was crossed out several times. And the main touch: a contour clearly appears near the character’s head. This oddity has an explanation. The fact is that at the time of the creation of the canvas, the poet's appearance was already greatly altered by the disease, and the artist did not dare to represent Nekrasov in a tragic form.
He found a way out, moving his head from a portrait painted earlier, when the ailment had not yet greatly affected the face of the writer. Hence, this unusual “insert” into the picture and the unnatural posture of a person, logically leaning on pillows, but clearly not reaching them - there is too much free space left behind the poet.
Nekrasov did not see the finished work. The painting became an obituary of the poet.
Snow Maiden Vasnetsova