Mysteries of M. Lermontov's portraits: what did the poet really look like?
Mysteries of M. Lermontov's portraits: what did the poet really look like?
Portraits of M. Yu. Lermontov

None of the lifetime portraits of M. Yu. Lermontov does not give a complete picture of what the poet looked like. Moreover, all the portraits seem to depict different people. And it's not just about appearance - facial expressions, posture, posture, look are so different, as if they characterize opposite psychological types. What is the mystery - in the versatility of Lermontov's nature or in the fact that the artists did not manage to discern something most important?

Unknown artist. Portraits of M. Yu. Lermontov at the age of 3-4 years old, 1817-1818, and at the age of 6-8 years old, 1820-1822

The earliest portraits of M. Yu. Lermontov were made by unknown artists, probably serfs. These are children's portraits, and it is still difficult to draw any conclusions from them.

F. Budkin. Portrait of M. Yu. Lermontov in the uniform of the Life Guards Hussar Regiment, 1834

In the portrait by F. Budkin, the author's desire to embellish nature is noticeable: an elongated face, a straight nose, beautiful forehead lines, lush hair - these are not real features of the posing, but rather the artist's desire to flatter him.

P. Zabolotsky. Portrait of M. Yu. Lermontov in the mentics of the Life Guards Hussar Regiment, 1837

In editions of the works of M. Lermontov, his portrait by P. Zabolotsky is often published. The artist was Lermontov's teacher of painting and knew him well. Probably, it was the close acquaintance with the poet that gave him advantages - the portrait was made in a realistic manner and accurately conveys not only the features of his appearance, but also some character traits. Compared to the dashing self-confident hussar from the portrait of F. Budkin, the poet depicted by Zabolotsky looks more believable: indecision slips in his gaze, there is no bravado in his posture. Among lifetime portraits, the work of P. Zabolotsky is considered one of the best.

M. Lermontov. Self-portrait, 1837

While in exile in the Caucasus, in 1837 M. Lermontov painted a self-portrait for his beloved woman, V. Lopukhina. This work is interesting because in it the author captured his own ideas about himself - spiritual softness and even timidity, combined with a somewhat childish face and inescapable sadness in his eyes, create a tragic and ambiguous, somewhat romanticized image. At the same time, Lermontov does not seek to embellish reality in anything - the portrait is true in all the details of its appearance.

A. Klunder. Portraits of M. Yu. Lermontov in a hussar frock coat, 1838 and 1839

In 1838-1840. 3 portraits of M. Lermontov are painted by A. Klyunder. Between these works, no more than a year passes - but nevertheless, one cannot fail to notice the difference in the appearance of the posing. At the same time, regarding the first portrait, doubts were often expressed about the similarity with the original.

P. Zabolotsky. Portrait of M. Yu. Lermontov in civilian dress, 1840

In 1840, another portrait of Lermontov was painted by P. Zabolotsky. And again, in the work, the artist's warm attitude to the posing and his close acquaintance with him is guessed - the author tried to depict not only the external features, but also the mood and emotional state of the poet at that moment: the concentrated gaze and firmness of expressive lips betray a strong-willed character.

D. Palen. Portrait of M. Yu. Lermontov in a military cap, 1840

Notable is the portrait painted by the poet's brother-in-arms, Baron D. Palen, after the Valerik battle. It is believed that this is the most similar to the original of all the lifetime portraits of Lermontov.

K. Gorbunov. Portrait of M. Yu. Lermontov in an army frock coat with a saber, 1840

The watercolor portrait by K. Gorbunov is the last lifetime depiction of Lermontov. The artist R. Shvede had a chance to write a poet on his deathbed.

R. Schwede. M. Yu. Lermontov on his deathbed M. Yu. Lermontov

The most accurate are usually called the works of P. Zabolotsky and D. Palen - perhaps this impression is formed due to the fact that the artists were well acquainted with the poet and captured not only his appearance, but also their warm attitude towards the posing.Nevertheless, even in these pictures we see three dissimilar people - who knows, maybe this is evidence of frequent and profound internal changes, and with them changes in the poet's appearance. Or each artist focused on different features that he himself considered the most important. This will remain one of the many mysteries associated with the poet's personality. Another of them is Lermontov's attitude to duels: the poet was a fatalist and did not aim at opponents

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