Description of the painting by Nikolai Nevrev “Oprichniki”

Description of the painting by Nikolai Nevrev “Oprichniki”

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Nikolai Vasilievich Nevrev began his career as a successful portrait painter; later, a large number of genre paintings were added to his works, in which the artist was especially successful. In adulthood, he switched to the historical genre. Contemporaries of the author said that from the paintings of Nevrev one can study the whole of Russian history.

On the canvas Oprichniki shows the moment before the execution of the boyar Ivan Fedorov-Chelyadnin. Boyarin was famous for his military campaigns, but did not take part in court intrigues. Despite this, he was considered one of the most influential people, was very close to the king. Everything changed after the appearance of the oprichnina. Fedorov-Chelyadnin lost his influence on Ivan the Terrible. Gradually, he fell into disgrace and was even suspected of treason. Terrible ordered the boyar to appear in the throne room, where he forced him to put on royal clothes and sit on the throne. After kneeling before his faithful servant, he was the first to stab with a knife sentenced to death.

Ivan the Terrible in Nevrev’s painting took his right hand far back, clutching a dagger. His face is distorted by malice. All color accents converge on the figure of the king. His richly embroidered, bright clothes are generously decorated with gold, sun glares play on his face and clothes. Fedorov-Chelyadnin, on the contrary, is in the shade, the expression on his face is difficult to make out. With trembling hands, he squeezes the scepter and power, holds his back straight, preparing to accept his death. The facial expressions of the numerous servants of the king are noteworthy. Most of them are emphasizedly servile, many dutifully bowed their heads, trying to seem lower. Those who are far away and not in the immediate vicinity of Ivan the Terrible openly laugh. The artist was able to perfectly convey the drama of the situation, the passions that reign in the throne room.

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