I received an anonymous letter about the title of my picture “Slaves of Imperialism”. The postcard reads “I went to an exhibition of the Peredvizhniki yesterday and saw your “Slaves of Imperialism” and was amazed at the ridiculous title. You were a great artist in the past, and as an old man you are still making yourself heard. But why put on airs and indulge in such foolery in naming your picture? It makes one ashamed for “Repin” and for “Russian art” - is Russian art, now, too the puppet of the revolution? We are deeply troubled and saddened by your behaviour. It is like the rouge covering the pale face of the heroine in Kuprin’s “The Pit”. Time to hold your tongue, old man.”
I called on RepinPainter, to ask what he wanted for the Buchanan portrait: 10,000 rubles or a golden plate. Repin (deathly pale, with the shadows of a dead man under his nose and eyes, yet still his ever-charming self): “You know, the plate is awfully nice, but I fear… I’m not worthy of it… It would be wasted on me… And how would I ever sell it? It’s hallmarked, it would be awkward”. See more
From this I understood that he needed the money.
I lent him 500 rubles to cover the dacha, at which he cheered up and took me to see the changes he had made to his garden, such as draining and drying out the Glinka Lake, installing lights and chopping down a number of trees to help the air circulate.
I only now returned from St. Petersburg; I was at the Ambassador’s. What a pity that I did not know about his intention, and not abandoned him, and for all that have him stay at the workshop. See more
I discouraged him—not to try it – he’s weary now, it’s an inconsistent time for trains on account of the weather.
In any case, I will be ready to present a portrait to his court on Wednesday morning, and so on, if he’s curious. The completion of a portrait can only be done in the room where it was started.
Dear Ilya Yefimovich, I have just received an assignment from the British ambassador to inform you, that early on Wednesday morning Sir George will visit the Penates. See more
I cannot vouch that he will succeed in bringing his plan to fruition, but I consider it my duty to fulfil his assignment. In vain I told the ambassador, that you consider it more rational to finish your portrait of his at the Embassy, yet he wishes at all costs to pay you a visit.