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The portrait of the writer Alexei Nikolayevich Tolstoy was made using lithography and graphics techniques in 1909. The following materials were used for work: gray paper, pencil, watercolor, ink, white, gold, silver.
In portraiture, Leon Bakst showed himself as a magnificent portrait painter, able to convey the characteristic features and mood of the model. For this, not only shadow drawing and paints were used, but also more bold means of expression - the contrast of volumetric and flat images, the use of various techniques.
In the portrait of Tolstoy, the combination of a voluminous head with an almost ethereal body is pronounced. Thus, the artist keeps the viewer's attention on the face of the writer, not allowing him to lose contact with the hero. Expressive eyes look at the observer with some reproach. The tension around the tightly closed mouth does not even allow us to imagine that the writer can smile, laugh or relax. The face shows through fatigue from life, disappointment and suspicion.
Hair is perfectly drawn - lock to lock, in separate lines repeating the shape of the head. Some strands are knocked out of the hairstyle and thereby give vividness to the portrait.
Clothing is given only in hints - a few strokes create the contours of a tie, collar. Sufficiently thick, confident lines that draw the upper part of the costume gradually fade, lose clarity, rigor, emphasize the importance of facial expressions, speaking eyes of the model.
Despite the fact that the viewer sees only the head and shoulders of the writer, the impression is that the hero will now stand up, shake his thoughtfulness and go about his business. Energy characteristic of L. Bakst’s works, desire for movement, freedom are also present in the portrait of A. N. Tolstoy.
The painting is stored in the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.
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