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The Cover
March 23 2011

Vsevolod Mikhailovich Garshin

JAMA. 2011;305(12):1172. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.255

The portrait's power stems from its intensity. Ilya Efimovich Repin (1844-1930) painted his friend—and occasional model—Vsevolod Mikhailovich Garshin, just like he portrayed most of the Russian intelligentsia, including Leo Tolstoy, during the era of the last czar. Garshin sat for his portrait, Vsevolod Mikhailovich Garshin (cover), at age 29 years, yet he appears, depicted for posterity, much older than his chronological age. Garshin, the novelist, playwright, and pacifist supporter of the radical spirit in Russia of the late 1870s and early 1880s, suffered from depression and the terrible legacy of his father's and brother's suicides. Sitting at a desk, surrounded by the books and papers of his vocation and trade, the bearded writer stares out at the audience, and most probably was gazing directly at Repin while the painter worked. Garshin's eyes burn, if not with revolutionary fervor, then perhaps with fever; his overall appearance is that of an intellectual, unconcerned with material goods and wardrobe. Vsevolod Mikhailovich slumps, his shoulders and upper spine rounded in the pose of one who reads and writes for the better part of each day. Four years after Repin immortalized him, Garshin cascaded, purposefully, down some stairs and ended his own life.