Like all artists, Repin was by no means indifferent to female beauty but his interest for the most part was purely artistic. In the early 1920s at Penates, Repin painted a female portrait series poetically named The Seasons. His younger neighbours including N. Iu. Butlerova, E. D. Degergorn, O. A. Puni and V. P. Stenina served as models.
In 1922 Vera, Repin's eldest daughter, returned to Penates from Petrograd, creating a pleasant and youthful atmosphere, which revived the artist's creativity and enthusiasm. The grown-up children of Mikhail Maksimov, another of Repin's esteemed neighbours in Kuokkala, were subsequently regular visitors to Penates. Vasily, Maksimov's oldest son whom Juri Repin painted in 1923, became Vera's intended. His younger sister Natalia provided the model for the present work, a charming portrait painted in 1924.
Clad in a heavy coat, and crimson beret in a winter forest, Natalia is the personification of youth, health and beauty. Like many of Repin's works at this time, the portrait was painted on linoleum. Repin never tired of repeating: 'Ah! How wonderful linoleum is, in the sense that the paint does not darkens'.
Portrait of Natalia Maksimova is an exciting discovery with unbroken provenance and is appearing on the market for the first time. This painting is a magnificent example by a genius painter who remained unbesmirched by time, sickness and the chaos of the world around him.
We would like to thank Liudmila Andrushchenko, Senior Researcher at the Ilya E. Repin Estate-Museum 'Penates' for providing this note.