Dostoevsky & Tolstoy

There are two authors that I have grown to love these past few years. They are the Russian authors Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky and Leo Tolstoy. Both these authors are from the 19th century, and they are best known for their works (Crime and Punishment and Anna Karenina/War and Peace).

First, Dostoevsky, in my opinion, is a very intriguing individual. One of the craziest stories about him is that he was meant to be executed for being involved with a radical group, and a few minutes before his execution he received a letter that saved him from execution and sent him to Siberia. Afterwards, he decided to become a writer. A portrait I found that is most associated with him was created by Vasily Perov in 1872.

Secondly, Tolstoy is also a very fascinating person, and he was very brilliant. This novels are usually over 800 pages and they consist of multiple themes, stories, and lessons. One fact about him is that he was involved in the Crimean War, and afterwards he began to include stories of war in many of his novels since he had experience with it. Though there are many portraits of him compared to Dostoevsky, one that I found was created by Nikolai Ge in 1884.

One thing I remember learning about portraits is that they are usually portrayed in a way that helps the person in the image. For instance, royalty usually make portraits to show themselves as superior, luxurious, and usually younger. Often times people who could afford to make portraits wanted to look like their best selves, and sometimes better then themselves. I don’t necessary see this is occurring in these paintings. However, I do think that it was planned to show Tolstoy writing. In addition, Dostoevsky is also represented very peacefully, with a gaze that shows he is in deep thought.

Other then pictures, portraits are another form of art that are rather important. Considering that photography only began in the 19th century, portraits were the only way to capture an image before. It’s interesting to see how the world of art has evolved.


“Don’t be overwise; fling yourself straight into life, without deliberation; don’t be afraid – the flood will bear you and set you safe on your feet again.” – Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” – Tolstoy


Feature Image was created by Vladimir Motochalov

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