Nesterov highly appreciated the work of Mukhina. He liked the sculpture “Worker and Collective Farm Woman”, created by Mukhina for the Soviet pavilion at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1937. He was attracted by the monumentality of plastics, the high content of the image, expressing the country’s romantic aspiration for the future.
Nesterov met Mukhina and was eager to paint her portrait: “She is interesting, smart. Outwardly it has “its own face”, completely finished, Russian. Hands are itching to write it, she agrees. ” When Nesterov saw the sculptor at work, he was delighted: “So that’s what you are! So it attacks the clay: there it will hit, here it will pinch, here it will beat. The face is on fire. Don’t get caught in the arm: it will hurt! This is how I need you. “
The portrait is built on the contrast of statics and dynamics. Outwardly, the large figure of a woman is static, her professional gestures are stingy, her face is calm and stern. But the figure of Boreus is all movement, flight, impulse. Nesterov himself chose for the portrait this statue of the northern god of the wind, made by Mukhina for the monument to the Chelyuskinites.
However, in the calmness of Mukhina, a huge internal energy is guessed. A blush of excitement stained her cheeks. The expression of the eyes is the true inspiration of the creator. The figure of Borey becomes the personification of the rebellious soul of Mukhina, so deceptively modest, static, devoid of external pathos.
The colors of the portrait are severe. Dominated by black and white, colored by blue and lilac reflexes. The dynamic movement of the white color of the Boreus figure, supported by the spread of the folds of the white frill Mukhina. Only the red spot of the brooch enlivens the severity of the color. The light radiates from the artist’s inspired face, painted in a warm, yellowish-ocher tone.
The portrait created by Nesterov two years before his death amazes with the freshness and originality of the compositional solution, the soulful psychological characteristic, the ability, while retaining the acutely individual features of the model, to create a generalized image of the creator.
Year of painting: 1940.
The dimensions of the painting are 80 x 75 cm.
Writing technique: oil.
Gallery: State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.