Portrait of Misha. 1891
Oil on canvas mounted on cardboard
Nikolai Kuznetsov's "Portrait of Misha," a delicate and serene work, was painted with quick brushstrokes and a thick glaze layer. Look how deftly the artist captured the contrasting lighting of the sunny summer weather. The painting shows the artist's son when he was just 10 years old. Married with three children, Nikolai Kuznetsov had a close-knit, happy family life despite marrying against the will of his well-to-do parents. He chose not some well-off daughter of a neighbourhood family, but rather a simple working girl named Hanna. Kuznetsov’s mother wanted to separate the lovers, and she even fired all her servants, including the girl. However, Nikolai brought them all back, and married his beloved. To tell the truth, their marriage was officially registered only after the birth of their two children, Maroussia and Misha. The artist Leonid Pasternak remembered the artist's kind, mild-mannered wife and their home: ''When she became the lady of the house, Kuznetsova, with her natural tact, carried herself well in company - she always stayed the same kind and gentle Galya – that was the name of the hospitable hostess and the master of making home-distilled liqueurs’’. The couple lived happily and freely together. In his time, Nikolai Kuznetsov himself also worked as a model on a few occasions, posing for his friends, the painters Viktor Vasnetsov and Ilya Repin. His appearance was so impressive and his expression so intimidating that Repin's famous painting ''The Zaporozhye Cossacks writing a letter to the Turkish Sultan'' depicted him as a cossack with a bandaged head.