Portrait of Leo Tolstoy as a Ploughman on a Field (1887) by Ilya Repin

Portrait of Leo Tolstoy as a Ploughman on a Field - Ilya Repin - 1887

Artwork Information

TitlePortrait of Leo Tolstoy as a Ploughman on a Field
ArtistIlya Repin
Dimensions28 x 40 cm
Art MovementRealism
Current LocationTretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia

About Portrait of Leo Tolstoy as a Ploughman on a Field

The artwork “Portrait of Leo Tolstoy as a Ploughman on a Field” is a quintessential example of Realism, executed in oil on canvas by the celebrated artist Ilya Repin in 1887. Measuring 28 x 40 cm, this portrait genre painting is part of the collection housed at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, Russia. It offers a glimpse into the life of the famous writer Leo Tolstoy, depicted in a manner that aligns with the Realist movement’s focus on depicting subjects in their everyday, truthful settings.

The artwork captures Leo Tolstoy in an unromanticized scene of rural life, emphatically embracing Repin’s commitment to Realism. Tolstoy is portrayed as a ploughman, working the field with two horses. He is situated in the foreground, commanding immediate attention, clothed in peasant garments—a dark coat and white headwear—against a vast, open landscape. His facial expression, under the shadow of his hat, is contemplative and resolute, reflecting perhaps the writer’s own philosophical convictions and his affinity for the simplicity and authenticity of peasant life.

The horses are rendered with meticulous attention to detail, highlighting the muscular physique required for such strenuous labor. Repin’s use of earthy tones evokes the rich texture of the soil being turned, while the subdued color palette accentuates a sense of harmony between the man and his environment. In the distance, a subtle indication of other figures working the land completes the composition, situating Tolstoy not as an isolated figure but as part of a larger community of laborers. The horizon is vast and open, suggesting both the endless toil of agricultural work and the broad scope of Tolstoy’s intellectual pursuits. Overall, Repin’s portrait offers an intimate and impactful view into the life of an esteemed cultural figure, uniting the grandeur of art with the humility of manual labor.

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