• 1 Jun 2018

On May 25th 2018, Igor Podporin age 37 attacked one of the jewels of Russian Art at the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow using a metal pole. The Artwork “Ivan the Terrible and his son” by painter Ilya Repin suffered from 8000 dollars damages before the individual got caught.

Painting by Russian Artist Ilya Repin

Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan on November 16th, 1581, 1885 © Ilya Repin

The Russian Mona Misa : the Art collections’ jewel in Moscow

Ilya Repin, a Russian realist painter, was born in 1844 in Ukraine. He significantly influenced Russian Art of the 19th century and contributed to its introduction to European culture that was trendy at the time. Coming from a modest background with a father Cossack soldier and a mother directing a rural elementary school, Ilya Repin started working as an icons painter. Later on he was trained at the Imperial Academy of Arts from which he would receive the title of academician. As soon as 1870, he became one of the adding figures of the Russian realist Art. Indeed, he managed in his Artworks to highlight the diversity and vitality of his contemporaries. To that end, he combines different styles including that of Spanish and Dutch painters from the 17th century. The Artwork representing Ivan the Terrible and his bloodied soon in 1581 was made in 1885. It is considered as the “Russian Mona Lisa”.

Artwork by Ilya Repin

The Zaporozhian Cossacks write a letter to the Sultan of Turkey, 1880-1891 © Ilya Repin

A vandalized painting

The attack took place an almost empty museum as the building was about to close its doors to the public around 8 pm on Friday May 25th 2018. In a statement, the museum said that he man burst into the hall dedicated to the Russian painter and “and struck several blows with a metal security bowl against the glassed canvas”. The damages are estimated at 8000 dollars. Still according to the official statement “The canvas has been torn in three spots in the central part of the work on the figure of the Tsarevich”. However, “the most important part—the depiction of the faces and hands of the Tsar and Tsarevich—were not damaged”. It is not the first time the canvas of the famous painter is under attacks. Indeed, in 1913, a mentally ill iconography vandalized the Artwork.

The State Tretyakov Gallery

The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow © Tretyakov and his gallery

The reason of the attack : extreme nationalism

During his arrest by the Russian police, Igor Popdorin said: “I came to see [the painting]. I came at eight in the evening, and then wanted to go to the canteen. I drank 100 grams of vodka. I don’t drink vodka and it overwhelmed me”. Nevertheless, his version radically changed during his statement in court. In fact, Igor Popdorin denied he drank vodka and confessed he damaged the canvas for nationalist reasons. Effectively, Ivan the Terrible is a controversial character in Russian history. As a result, all negative representations of the Tsars provoke the anger of several Russians as the 100th anniversary of Tsar Nicholas II and his family approaches especially since they were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church. “The painting is a lie” said Igor Podporin. Historians have a mixed feeling about Ivan the Terrible’s son assassination by his father. Some nationalists think that Western countries exaggerated the Tsar’s cruelty.

Read our article about the gender pay gap in the main auction houses here.

Sources: The Art Newspaper and Artnet