After the appearance of the double portrait “Philosophers” Nesterov did not abandon the intention to paint another one of this kind. An attempt to create a double portrait of the Tyutchevs’ brother and sister, the poet’s grandchildren, was unsuccessful – Nesterov cut it into two parts. In 1930, he again turned to the idea of a double portrait and chose the Korin brothers, hereditary Paleshan icon painters, as models for him. Nesterov met them while working on the murals at the Martha and Mary Convent. At that time they were students of the Icon Painting Chamber. The friendship that developed with Nesterov, his keen and demanding participation in the fate of the brothers led to the fact that both of them became significant artists. Pavel Korin continued the work of Nesterov, devoting a significant part of his life to preparatory work on the painting “Requiem”, dedicated to the depiction of outgoing Russia. Maxim Gorky, believing in the talent of these two immigrants from the people, took them in 1931 with him to Italy, along which they traveled with a guide written for them by Nesterov himself. He made sure that their professional education was broad and European.
Nesterov admired the difference in the appearance and characters of the brothers. Pavel seemed to him some kind of Italian from the Renaissance, the youth from the painting by Ghirlandaio – Alexander in his view was a typical Russian hare-Vladimir, with large curls, with the manner of Mikula Selyaninovich.
The artist painted them in the same black blouse. The uniformity of clothes revealed even more the dissimilarity of characters. The eldest, Pavel, is shown in profile. Its dark silhouette is expressive and noble. There is a sense of isolation, depth of experience with the external restraint of its expression. Alexander is written almost face-to-face, which allows you to clearly see the dashingness of his broad-shouldered figure, the gesture of his hands with which he grabbed his belt at the moment of excitement that gripped him. In contrast to the older’s dark face, the younger’s face is white, ruddy, open. Both brothers look at an antique vase, which Paul is picking up in his hand. One of the brothers looks at her with restrained, almost prayerful reverence, the other – more expansive and open, with innocent admiration.
In the background of the painting, Nesterov makes an antique bas-relief – a plaster cast from a slab of the Parthenon frieze, old books, scrolls of old manuscripts, a dummy of a human figure. On the bottom shelf of the table, paint bottles glow blue-green and red. All these are real objects of the Korins workshop. The artist combines them into a still life that tells about the involvement of the depicted in art.
Both brothers are equally interesting and dear to Nesterov. “Both are gifted, both will come out into the world,” – he thought. The artist builds a harmonious balanced composition, reconciling the conflicting characters of young people in love with beauty.
Year of painting: 1930.
Painting dimensions: 126 x 126 cm.
Writing technique: oil.
Genre: genre painting.
Gallery: State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.