I recently added 2 books to my library, The Best of Ilya Repin and Valentin Serov. I especially like the soulful portraits created by these great Russian realists...contemporaries of Sargent, Sorolla, and Zorn. As with Sargent, Serov's portraits were in high demand by artists, politicians, and Russian high society during the Silver Age of Russia, prior to the revolution. My original interest here was to do master studies from each book. The drawing below is after Repin, a pale shadow of the original, but I learned a lot, as I always do with master copies. Such a good learning tool.
|Alexandra Botkina after Repin, Charcoal and chalk on paper|
Back to Repin and Serov...In his early 20's, Serov was a student of Repin's for several years and that influence is clear in his work. As I looked through each book, I recognized a similar portrait which must have been painted by them as they sat side-by-side (see below). It's clear from her gaze that the model was deferring to Repin. Models always pose for the master, not the students. Interesting to see how each artist interpreted the shapes and colors before him...Repin more literally and with more saturated color, Serov more impressionistically and tonally. I like the Repin, but if I had a choice it would be the Serov. I'd take Serov over Sargent. Something subtle and psychological in Serov's portraits.
|Portrait of Sophia Dragomirova, 1889 by Ilya Repin|
|Portrait of Sophia Dragomirova, 1889 by Valentin Serov|
I've included a few more of my favorite Serov's below for your enjoyment. Information on him is widely available on the web. Here's the Google Image search. The book I mention above, Valentin Serov, is a bargain under $80. I wouldn't purchase the book on Repin at it's current price of $150-$200...too expensive for what it is.
|Portrait of Henrietta Girshman, 1907|
|Girl with Peaches, Portrait of Vera Mamontova, 1887|
|Portrait of Ivan Morozov, 1910|
|Portrait of Zinaida Yusupova, 1900-02|