One must be strong to be gentle; perhaps this is the secret to Russian art, which encompasses both the traditions of heroic struggle and intimate fairy-tale. This painting, Portrait of Varya Adoratskaya, by Nicolai Fechin, is surely an example of the latter, though its date reminds the viewer of what was to come.
Fechin almost died of meningitis as a boy, but went on to live a long live, emigrating to the United States in 1923 and establishing a reputation as a superb painter of Native Americans. He seems to have been attracted to the primordial in life, those things in us which cannot be changed. And in this portrait we have an exemplar of the Russian love of purity and innocence, of a heaven manifest in the white snows and serene light of the open countryside. There is the finesse of the craft tradition here, but one which opens out onto the broader prospect of the heart: a poignant gift.
RT would like to note that he heard of Fechin through a recent post by fellow-blogger Sara Buckley; he recommends that readers take a look at her drawing inspired by Fechin, a powerful portrait inspired by his work. RT
Painting: Portrait of Varya Adoratskaya; Nikolai Ivanovich Fechin (1914). State Art Museum of Tatarstan, Kazan. WikiCmns. Public Domain.