In this work, we see a portrait of the famous Russian painter Ivan Nikolaevich Kramsky. It always raises many questions, as one artist allowed to paint his portrait to another artist. But Repin and Kramsky were bound by long friendships, so in this work we see, literally, a piece of Repin’s soul, his feelings for a person.
The picture shows Kramskoy in a sitting posture. This is a middle-aged man, he looks about 40-50 years old. The skin on the hands is already aged, gray hair appeared, and the beard was completely white. It seems as if the person being portrayed is posing not at home, where he could put on comfortable clothes and sit imposingly on the couch. Before us is a man in a strict, formal enough suit. He is wearing a dark brown-black coat or an elongated jacket. White cuffs peeking out from under the coat. The trousers on the artist are also dark, almost black. Such a scanty color scheme when drawing clothes is fully compensated by the bright face of the posing.
The face of the artist is very tense. He is focused, looking from the picture directly at us. His look is quite strict, perhaps dissatisfied. Ilya Repin was not just a friend of Kramskoy. Initially, he considered him his teacher, patron in art. Probably for this reason we see such a stern expression on Kramsky’s face.
The background of the canvas is the wall of the room. The artist skillfully executed the light stretching from dark to light. It seems that in one part of the picture the background is grayish, in the other – turquoise. But a simple stretch would look unfinished at work, so the artist draws the background with sharp, sweeping strokes.
The picture is made in dark colors. The brightest spots at work are a white shirt and the face of Ivan Nikolaevich Kramsky. Thus, Repin emphasizes the importance of emotions, the inner world of the person portrayed. At the same time, it completely removes the accent from the surroundings.