One of the best portraits:
Valentin Serov (1865–1911)
Portrait of Maria Nikolaeyevna Yermolova, 1905
Oil on canvas, 224 x 120 cm (88,3 x 47,3 in)
Signed and dated, bottom left: Съровъ 905 (Serov, 1905)
The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia, Inv. No. 28079
Maria Nikolaevna Yermolova (1853–1928) was a famous dramatic actress. She was the “hero of her time” for whom art acquires the status of high levels of devotion and public service. Critic V.A. Gilyarovskiy characterized the appearance and the elegance of the great actress, “ Rigorous, perfectly formed face features, deep black eyes, … stiffness of classical figure, she looks through the space…” Valentin Serov embodies all that in his famous canvas. The Literary and Art Circle commissioned the portrait due to the 35th anniversary of Yermolova’s artistic career.
Portrait of Maria Nikolaeyevna Yermolova is penetrated with the romantic enthusiasm of the artist, which was typical for him after the revolution in 1905. Austere, majestic, the female figure stands proudly, like a column, with raised head. Her face, her eyes, the whole complexion executed with creative enthusiasm. The great actress is conveyed by Serov as if from the stalls, fearlessly speaking from the stage of justice and truth, to inspire people to great deeds. 
Yermolova’s head and the entire figure as a whole are completed with exceptional spirituality, whereby the artist gives it a very strict, clear silhouette. The contour line of the figure, clear and continuous, draws a majestic monument, towering freely in space. This monumental pose is perceived as a huge concentration of the human spirit. In a painting of restricted colour, the black dress plays the key role and gives a tense tragic tone.
Contemporaries immediately perceived the image of the actress as a symbol of the era and a timeless stoic burning soul, “sorrow, which opened the heavens”. “Here is not Yermolova but Drama and even Tragedy”, exclaimed Grabar. Looking for majesty, the artist worked hard over the general solution of the picturesque portrait, using a combination of different points of view, a technique ascending to the ancient traditions. He was trying to create the illusion of long-term reduction in the shallow space. That is why the viewer looks at the heroine from the bottom up, as at a monument lifted up above the crowd, as being on the stage in front of the filled theatre hall. The black silhouette of the dress is firmly inscribed in straight horizontal lines against patterns on the wall, in front of which stands Yermolova. Lightened features are framed by the interior reflected in the mirror.
Together with Portrait of Fiodor Ivanovich Chalyapin, 1905, these portraits embodied a definition of “universal humanity” and appeal to us as one of the last manifestations of the heroic spirit of the time.
Circle of Literature and Art, Moscow; Maly Theatre, Moscow; The State Tretyakov Gallery since 1935.
Russian Art, Paris, Berlin, 1906, nos. 511, 423;4th Exhibition of the Union of Russian Artists, Moscow, 1907, no. 219; St. Petersburg, 1914, not listed in the catalogue; Moscow, no. 207; The State Tretyakov Gallery, no. 152, The Russian Museum, no. 145; Berlin, Dresden, Halle 1953; Soviet and Russian Pre-revolutionary Art, Budapest, 1954; Russia and the Arts. The Age of Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky, 2016.
Grabar, Serov, 1914, pp. 158, 291; Radzimovskaya, 1956, pp. 209–223; Liberfort, 1960, pp. 51–53; Simonovich-Yefimova, 1964, p. 81; Eisentein, 1964, 2, pp. 376–392; Grabar, Serov, 1965, pp. 166–169, 339; Sarabyanov, Reforms by Valentin Serov, 1971, pp. 20–25; Leniashin 1980, pp. 106–135.
 Golovina, 2012, p. 29.
 Zolotov, A.I., 1964, p. 7.
 Grabar, 1965, p. 168.
 Golovina, 2012, p. 29.
 Ibid., p. 31.
Where you can discover rich collection of Pre- Paphaelites and various styles of British Art over tree centuries XVIII-XIX
'Myth, Dream and Reality', - representation of the male and female body.
- 'Beautiful is in the eyes of the beholder'
- perception of Beaty changing over the time: from classical mythical Venus to more erotic nudes and realism.
- not for forget about the symbolic body language and iconography, the embodiment of the sole and experiences of being a human.
Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Albert Joseph Moore, Tissot, Watts
'Face and Place', - portraiture and landscape in the 18th cent.
- portraiture is Britain's most special and distinguish style of art,
- especially emerged for the greater number of society members the beginning of 18th cent. and onwards.
- influenced by country's dramatic wealth growth,
- general increase of demand for art in new build mansions
- demonstrate aristocratic status and taste of art collector or the sitter
- landscape as the record of views, proud land ownership
- treated with creativity and seriousness
Gainsborough, Reynolds, Romney, Wright of Derby
'Grand Tour and Grand Style’, - the influence of travel
- focus on classics: across Europe in South direction - to Italy, Rome in particular, new archeological sites (Herculaneum and Pompei)
- Classic antiquity and European art led to a new department in painting called the Grand Style
- championing classic and historic architecture, new styles emerged with the huge demand of Neoclassical design creations
Claude Lorrain, Poussin, Vernet, Hogarth
'Natural Forces’, - Romanticism and Nature
- nature can be both threat and consolation, evokes powerful emotions from fear to joy and love...
- dynamic drama of human emotion in reaction to nature
- direct responses to what artists saw and experienced on land and at sea
- great freedom of expression in brushwork, color and composition, effects of water, changing season and more with moving intensity
Turner and Constable
'The Pre-Raphaelites', - the most radical British art movement, emerged from within Royal Academy in 1848
- members - rebellious art students, who wanted to disassociate with contemporary practice
- glance back to Italian art before Raphael, pre-1500 period as the greatest in art history, as they believed
- source of stylistic and iconographic inspiration: Bible, classical mythology, Middle Ages, Middle East
- painted directly from nature, importance of natural light
- dream-like intensity
- new kind of history paintings for a new age.
Rossetti, Hunt, Millais, William Morris
Highland Romance, Victorian view of Scottishnes
- Victorian Dramas, history to capture the popular imagination
- In Pursuit of Beauty, late Victorian art and design
Peter Graham, William Bromley, David Wilkie,
To be human...
And not for forget about the last room highlight, powerful painting by the most expensive British artist,
Francis Bacon, Portrait of Henrietta Moraes
- the chaotic nature of life
- inspiration not by her looks but by personally as he knew he very well, shared drinks and drugs in bohemian life of post-war London
- both a violent and foul-mounted drunk as well as a witty, warm and lovable woman