In 1885, the famous Russian painter Ilya Efimovich Repin completed work on one of his most famous paintings: "Ivan the Terrible and his son Ivan on November 16, 1581". The canvas is better known as "Ivan the Terrible kills his son." Repin captured the tragic moment in the life of the formidable ruler, in a fit of anger he stabbed his son with a staff, who was bleeding, and in the eyes of his father - horror and belated remorse, in a few days the heir would die.
One of the first critics of the painting was the Chief Prosecutor of the Synod, Konstantin Petrovich Pobedonostsev, who saw it at an exhibition in St. Petersburg. An indignant official writes to Emperor Alexander III that the plot is "purely fantastic" and cannot claim to be historically accurate. Pobedonostsev's message did not go unnoticed, P.M. exhibitions, and it is better to remove from prying eyes altogether.The ban was canceled only thanks to the efforts of AP Bogolyubov, a painter who had influential patrons at court.
What caused the anger of such influential people? It is not a secret to anyone that on November 16, 1581, Ivan IV, aka the Terrible, inflicted a severe injury on his son with a blow to the temple, who died from the injury. To be convinced of this, it is enough to open any school history textbook. Another question - how did this accusation of the Russian tsar of filicide get into the textbooks?
In the annals of that time, indeed, there is information that in 7090 from the Creation of the world (1581 from the birth of Christ), Tsarevich John Ioannovich died. But not a single word is said about the fact that death came through the fault of Ivan the Terrible. Who slandered Ivan IV? For example, Metropolitan John of St. Petersburg and Ladoga is sure that these statements are based only on the testimony of foreigners.
At this time, Antonio Possevino, the Pope's envoy, was in Russia, and he hastened to accuse Ivan the Terrible of a terrible sin - the murder of his own son. And in the 18th century, supporters of the "Norman theory" so actively took up the "promotion" of this fact that soon many lovers of Russian history did not even have a shadow of doubt that the tragedy was the fault of Ivan IV. For example, Nikolai Mikhailovich Karamzin writes about this in his famous History of the Russian State.
Studies carried out in 1963 by Soviet archaeologists cast doubt on such a seemingly obvious fact of the murder of his own son by Ivan the Terrible. The commission had to figure out - how much this legend corresponds to reality? In the Archangel Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin, four sarcophagi were uncovered with the remains of Ivan IV himself, his two sons (Ivan and Fyodor), and also Skopin-Shuisky, a famous statesman.
The conclusions made by the commission were very interesting. It was noted that the amount of mercury in the remains of Ivan the Terrible and Tsarevich Ivan significantly exceeds the norm, while in the other two it is at the usual level for the human body. Skeptics were quick to declare that this is only a consequence of the treatment of syphilis with mercury ointments. But no syphilitic changes were found in the remains of the king and his son. Moreover, on the skull of the prince, it was not possible to find traces of a blow with a staff, and in fact, according to legend, it was so strong that it led to the death of the heir to the throne! So the king and his son were poisoned? And Ivan the Terrible was simply slandered?
Of course, it is impossible to say unequivocally that now everything is clear with this tragic page in the history of Russia. But to accuse the king of killing his son is simply immoral. At least for the lack of solid evidence. Ivan, as the documents say, died painfully, but was the tsar to blame for his untimely death? Failure to prove, as is known, is interpreted in favor of the accused.
Ilya Repin himself recalled that the plot of the picture was conceived back in 1881 after the tragedy in St. Petersburg: another attempt on the life of the Russian emperor, as a result of which Alexander II died. Soon the artist picked up sitters - he painted the tsar from another artist - Grigory Myasoedov, but the tsarevich from the writer Vsevolod Garshin. Garshin himself was a very impressionable and easily vulnerable person. His life ended tragically: in 1888, the writer threw himself into a flight of stairs and died. He was only 33 years old.
Repin's painting caused discontent not only in government circles, where it was called anti-monarchist. Often, even ordinary visitors to the Tretyakov Gallery claimed that it offends the patriotic and religious feelings of Russians.
In January 1913, Abram Balashov, an Old Believer, the son of a famous furniture manufacturer, pounced on Repin's canvas with a knife. At the same time, according to eyewitnesses, Balashov shouted: "Enough deaths! Enough blood!" There are three large cuts in the painting. Abram was sent to a psychiatric clinic, and Repin was asked to work on the restoration of the picture. The restoration work continued for several months.
At the same time, it should be noted that many openly came out in defense of Abram Balashov. Among them was the famous Russian poet Maximilian Voloshin, who, upon learning about the attempt on the canvas, said: "Not Repin is the victim of Balashov, but Balashov is the victim of Repin's painting!"