- Term Papers and Free Essays

Art & Craft in Nikolay Gogol’s “the Portrait”

Essay by   •  April 27, 2017  •  Essay  •  2,360 Words (10 Pages)  •  1,100 Views

Essay Preview: Art & Craft in Nikolay Gogol’s “the Portrait”

Report this essay
Page 1 of 10

Art & Craft in Nikolay Gogol’s “The Portrait”

The short story of N. V. Gogol “The Portrait” is built on the opposition of art and craft concepts to each other. Many Gogolists noted this in their works. The opposition of these two concepts arises from the beginning. Pictures in the shop, where Tchartkoff accidentally wandered, cause admiration of the people and the artist's perplexity. He sincerely does not understand what exactly attracts the people in these simple pictures, in which everything is caricatured, implausible, deliberate, unfeeling. The protagonist mentally named them, “simple dullness, steady-going incapacity, which stood, through self-will, in the ranks of artThe Portrait. With his artist instinct, Tchartkoff snatches from the all portraiture truly tableaus — it is no coincidence that he stops in front of the portrait of the old man and freezes. Still not suspecting that, in front of him is not quite an ordinary work, Tchartkoff feels the power of the brush of the artist who painted the portrait.

The nature of these pictures differs, the nature of the inspiration itself, by the will of which they were created. Creativity (pictorial, musical, architectural, literary) — is a kind of attempt to overcome disharmony, arising as a result of internal contradictions of a person or rejection of the surrounding reality. When creating a work, an author transforms his tormenting doubts in artistic images, engaged in a dialogue with himself and the addressee. Art is designed to harmonize the human soul (an author and a probable reader) and its surrounding reality, that is why true works of art are always perfect and harmonious in the unity of all their structural elements. This is the main difference from graphomaniac experiments in the literary, from music, satisfies the unpretentious requests of the masses, paintings created by order — from what is now called popular culture, pop, kitsch.

Art — the creative impulse of the soul; craft — a means of earning. Art is alive by nature; craft, outwardly pretended by creativity,  — dead. The creator by nature, Tchartkoff catches exactly this difference.

But to feel, understand creativity, be talented and serve the arts — not the same thing. Tchartkoff loses his remarkable abilities in pursuit of fashion, money, fame. As soon as life gets confronted him with a choice of art or craft, he chooses the second. The sparkle of his talent gradually fades away. At the end of the first part of the story we are faced with an angry man, who understands that he has exchanged his talent for a luxurious life and honors, in which, to his regret, a talent couldn’t be developed — too much distracting vanity. Also, wealth and fame provide comfort, dull the senses, exacerbated in difficult situations. The ability of delicate sensibilities and awareness of the imperfection of reality causes disharmony to some extent necessary for the creative process.

Tchartkoff can not resist the temptation and buys himself a fame and glory for money, which dropped out from under the frame of a mysterious portrait. At the first time, his gift of the artist still makes itself felt: Tchartkoff tries not only to fulfill orders, but to create — he enjoys working, with a dying breath he catches the shades, does not notice how time is running. However, the lady who ordered the portrait does not want to see what it really is, she wants her daughter to be different, not the same as in life: without slightly yellowish skin, without a faintly visible blue under her eyes, without dark spots on her face. In other words, the customer wishes her daughter to become “an absolute,” perfection. But the external perfection is cold and dead, it does not become alive, life-giving. It does not become art. Tchartkoff tries to resist, seeks to give the portrait more similarity with the original, But not so much to remain faithful to his calling, as “lest any one should accuse him of actual barefaced flattery.” The Portrait.

At this moment, when he is working on the first custom order, Tchartkoff seems to be at a crossroads. Being, like the hero of “The Queen of Spades,” at the crossroads, Tchartkoff chooses one of the two possible ways. A quick success does not bring him happiness, it is a mirage, an illusion that crumbles to dust when compared to real art. Sent from Italy, the work by one of Tchartkoff's friends of youth strikes not only him, but also all without exception:

When Tchartkoff entered the room, he found a crowd of visitors already collected before the picture. The most profound silence, such as rarely settles upon a throng of critics, reigned over all. The Portrait.

All those years, while Tchartkoff was indulging in glory and spending money, his friend worked hard, “There he buried himself in his work from which he permitted nothing to entice him.” The Portrait. The only way, detached from the world's distractions, not chasing the imaginary values, not paying attention to the society, you can create a real masterpiece. It is significant that in the story there is no the surname, nor the first name of the artist, whose creation so affected the audience. It is no coincidence that this character remains anonymous, his name — Artist, Master, Creator.

A true artist does not pursue for the crowd recognition, masterpieces are not created for fun idle public. The process of creating a work of art — the impossibility of “being silent,” not expressing. Goethe said that if he had not written a novel “The Sorrows of Young Werther”, he could not to move on. A craftsman, even having learned to imitate art, is not able to achieve this goal. The realization of the gap between him and the real artist strikes Tchartkoff. No matter how the hero who has sold his gift tries to say something, “everyday expression; strove to utter some such commonplace remark” The Portrait, he can not remain indifferent, “tears and sobs burst forth uncontrollably, and he rushed from the room like one beside himself” The Portrait.

        What happens with Tchartkoff, resembles Stendhal’s syndrome (in Stendhal’s syndrome, a person struck by a work of art, extremely acutely perceives all emotions, as if being transferred to the image space; reactions of victims of the syndrome are different, up to hysteria or attempts to destroy the picture). At first, he cannot restrain sobbing, then begins:

to purchase the best that art produced of every kind. Having bought a picture at a great price, he transported it to his room, flung himself upon it with the ferocity of a tiger, cut it, tore it, chopped it into bits, and stamped upon it with a grin of delight. The Portrait.



Download as:   txt (13.3 Kb)   pdf (123.3 Kb)   docx (14 Kb)  
Continue for 9 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2017, 04). Art & Craft in Nikolay Gogol’s “the Portrait”. Retrieved 04, 2017, from

"Art & Craft in Nikolay Gogol’s “the Portrait”" 04 2017. 2017. 04 2017 <>.

"Art & Craft in Nikolay Gogol’s “the Portrait”.", 04 2017. Web. 04 2017. <>.

"Art & Craft in Nikolay Gogol’s “the Portrait”." 04, 2017. Accessed 04, 2017.