The following paper analyzes the artistic aspects of the above-given art piece titled “Portrait of the Author Feodor Dostoyevsky” that was painted by Vasily Grigorevich Perov. The portrait was painted in 1872 and carries the underlying approach of realism and made on canvas with oil. Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky was born in 1821 and is widely known as the most celebrated Russian writer. He wrote several short stories, essays, novels and different pieces of philosophy and journalism. “Crime and Punishment” “The Idiot” “The Brothers Karamazov” and “The Gambler” are most eminent works of him. Dostoevsky explored the essence of human psychology amongst the chaotic societal, spiritual and political environment of 19th century in Russia and elaborated the religious and realistic as well as philosophical dimensions of that subject era. Meanwhile, Vasily Grigorevich Perov was born in 1834 and was a Russian artist that painted the prominent personalities of Russian realist movement; he was also acknowledged as the pioneer of Peredvizhnik. State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow owns the subject portrait of Dostoevsky.
Before analyzing the art elements of the portrait, it is imperative to know the context of the artwork. This painting was painted after Dostoevsky has written “The idiot” and “Crime and Punishment.” his popularity and fame among people evoked Pavel Tretyakov to commission Perov because he was eager to place the portrait of Dostoevsky in his gallery under the category of “those dear to the nation.” So, consequently, Perov created this masterpiece by keeping all the interrelated attributes of Dostoevsky, his era and his writing in mind. Evidently, Dostoevsky’s writings are an illustration of human soul’s profoundness and also depict its dark and ironic as well as scathing and funny aspects. His work demonstrates an old-fashioned, vintage tinge that is apparent in the portrait.
The elements of art that are color, lines, shape, value, form, texture and space play a significant role in visual aesthetics of any artwork. Similarly, colors, lines and texture and somehow space are integral elements which enhance the quality of the portrait of Fyodor Dostoevsky. Perov used to pursue an undisciplined color palette that led him to use a grayish and brown palette for the subject portrait. The selection of colors makes it an authentic portrayal of urban lowest strata life. Moreover, the use of titanium white, raw umber, ivory black and yellow ochre oil paints augment the old-fashioned feel of the overall painting.
The portrait features a simplistic approach as it focuses only on background and the main object that is the figure of Dostoevsky, sitting by holding his knees in a casual style. Background is relatively dark; meanwhile, face is painted with lighter colors to give an impression of illumination. The lines are curvy and used to depict the waves of fabric of trench coat that is painted with a combination of brownish gray paints. Trench coats were in fashion at that time in Russia and therefore are best tool to entice the legacy of that particular epoch. Dostoevsky’s used to dress in white, buttoned shirts and white pants and therefore a white shirt is peeping out from his trench coat in the portrait as well. However, Perov altered the color theme of his usual pants and give it a lined pattern. As the outcome the pants represents black lines and compliment with dark brownish, amber color.
The overall texture of portrait is also boosting the effect of facial expressions and realism. Dostoevsky was a slim man with somehow shabby beard, his eyes provided a feeble hint of purple and their sharpness added a jagged and crafty look. And when it comes to his personification; he always exhibited a sound quality of calmness and can be addressed as an epitome of confidence. Moreover, intelligence was the most outstanding trait of Dostoevsky and such level of wisdom is also visible from his eyes. All these aspects are artistically incorporated within the portrait. A marvelous blend of light and dark hues enhances the efficacy of overall facial features and gives him a thoughtful stare. Furthermore, realism facilitates a substantial focus on hands and face that in turn adds a photographic value to the painting.
Balance and space are also essential components in a visual artwork, and through incorporating dark and shadowy background and relatively lighter and colored foreground ; Perov created a balance to its overall frame. It is also a point to observe that Perov created a balance between visage and hands of Dostoevsky and placed them in a synchronized manner. The underlying balance, in turn, complementing the posture of the figure and the focus is divided equally on the objects. The portrait is made on canvas and portrays a rectangular frame that is a perfect medium and shape for portraits and elevating the attraction of subject portrait.
All the art elements including colors, shapes, lines, textures and balancing together are providing the portrait with a vintage feel and a pure sense of realism. The facial effects, scruffy and grown beard and tranquility in posture along with sharpness in eyes all demonstrating the essence of Dostoevsky’s original personality. Further, the sitting style, atmosphere, outfits, and ambiance all suggest old Russia’s urban lifestyle.
Perov, Vasily. “Portrait of the Author Feodor Dostoyevsky, 1872 – Vasily Perov.”
Www.wikiart.org, 1 Jan. 1872, www.wikiart.org/en/vasily-perov/portrait-of-the-author-