Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan

Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan (full title: "Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan on November 16, 1581", also known as "Ivan the Terrible Killing His Son"). Is an oil on canvas painting that was made by the Russian realist artist Ilya Repin, between 1883, and 1885.

The painting itself shows a very distressed Ivan IV Vasilyevich (Russian: "Ива́н Васи́льевич"), who is better known as "Ivan the Terrible", holding his dying son, the Tsarevich Ivan Ivanovich. Ivan himself is believed to have dealt the fatal blow to his son.

According to Ilya Repin's memoirs, he was inspired to make this painting after the 1881 assassination of the Emperor of Russia, Tsar Alexander II. He was also inspired by the music of Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and that of bullfighting he had witnessed in 1883.

Ilya Repin used two models for Ivan, and his son; he used Grigoriy Myasoyedov, his friend, and fellow artist, as the model for Ivan the Terrible, and writer Vsevolod Garshin as the model for the Tsarevich.

This artwork has been called one of Russia's most famous paintings, however, it has also been called one of its most controversial. In its lifetime, it has been vandalised two times, first in 1913, and then in 2018.

Background of The Painting

The art is on a large canvas, that is 199.5 by 254 centimetres. The main subject of the painting is Ivan, and his son, in a darkened room, with blood on the carpet, along with a turned over table. You should note that Ivan is dressed in nothing but black, while his son is in a colourful pair of blue trousers, all while he is in pink silk.

The room is furnished with 17th century furniture, and objects.

Controversy of The Painting

The events leading up to the death of Tsarevich Ivan Ivanovich still even to this day, remain a controversial topic in Russia, with some Russians nationalists disputing the true historical accuracy of the usual account of the event.

Accounts vary on the causes of the death, the subject of an argument (if there was one), and the precise dates of the events. The most common account of the event is that relations between Ivan, and that of his son were strained at best. The Tsar had his son's first two wives, Eudoxia Saburova, and Praskovia Solova sent away to convents.

While he was at the Alexandrov Kremlin in November 1581, Ivan was said to have assaulted his son's third wife, Yelena Sheremeteva, for being inappropriately dressed. At the time she as pregnant, and due to the beating, it caused a miscarriage. Ivan's son reprimanded his father, and the Tsar responded by accusing his son of inciting rebellion by challenging his father and advocating attempts to relieve the ongoing Siege of Pskov. Ivan would strike his son with that of his sceptre, along with striking Boris Godunov (ruled the Tsardom of Russia as de facto regent from c. 1585 to 1598) when he tried to intervene.

The Tsarevich would fall to the ground in a bloody mess, bleeding heavily. Ivan was quickly remorseful, but his son died a few days later.

Ilya Repin's painting would temporarily be removed from public display at the Tretyakov Gallery when rumour came-out that Tsar Alexander III found it offensive. The emperor himself forbid the exhibition of the painting until Russian landscape painter Alexey Bogolyubov petitioned him to change his mind.

Even in the 21st century, this painting is still despised by the foolish, and those who do not see artistic merit in this painting.

In 2013, an open letter was sent to the Russian culture ministry by Orthodox Christian activists. In the letter, it alleged that the painting was offensive to Russians as it showed an untrue, distorted view of history. The letter asked the Russian Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky to remove the artwork from the public eye. The director of the Tretyakov Gallery, Irina Lebedeva, objected.

Vandalism of The Painting

Due to its subject matter, the painting has been the subject of vandalism two times in its lifetime. The first attack was on the 16th of January 1913 (old date style), when Abram Balachov would attack the painting three times with a knife, making three parallel slashes over the faces of Ivan, and his son. The curator of the Tretyakov Gallery, the landscape painter Georgy Khruslov was so distressed by the vandalism that he threw himself under a train.

As he was still alive at the time, Repin was able to restore the work.

You can see the result of Abram Balachov's attack of the right.

The painting would be attacked for a second time over a century later on the on 25th of May 2018, when a tired, and emotional visitor to the gallery used a metal security poles used to hold the rope to keep visitors at a distance to smash the security glass around the painting, as he believed the painting was not historically correct.

The canvas was torn in three places, though fortuitously not near the faces and hands of those portrayed. The damage to the painting was reported to be that of "serious", with a special commission of art experts planning restoration which is expected to take several years.

Olga Temerina, the deputy head of the Grabar Art Conservation Centre, says that they have Repin's notes from the first attack which may help with restoration work.

The work of the second attacker can be seen on the left.

Info from here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_the_Terrible_and_His_Son_Ivan

Written by Clive "James" Python, 2018-06-09.