Savva Ivanovich Mamontov (1841 - 1918) - one of the richest people in the Russian Empire, a major railway tycoon and philanthropist. He was widely known to his contemporaries for his activities aimed at supporting and developing art. In 1870, Mamontov acquired the Abramtsevo estate near Moscow, located between Moscow and Yaroslavl in the vicinity of Sergiev Posad, after which he invited the most famous artists to live and work there: the Abramtsevo circle, which was formed around their common patron and philanthropist, included painters V. Polenov, I. Repin, I. Levitan, M. Vrubel, Vasnetsov brothers and many other prominent artists.
Many different portraits of Savva Mamontov painted by different artists have survived to our days; among the most significant is a painting by Mikhail Vrubel, created in 1897. The artist met Mamontov in Moscow, where Vrubel was a passage; since then he has become a permanent person in Abramtsevo, enjoys great support from his benefactor. Admiring the breadth of nature and the giftedness of Savva Ivanovich, Vrubel decided to create a large portrait of Mamontov.
In the picture, Savva is depicted sitting in his office. The portrait is imbued with expression, partly hyperbolic: it seems that Savva Ivanovich is cramped in a limited world, he wants space like an old Russian hero from epics. His gaze feels business acumen, regal grandeur, severity and scope. Extremely reliable, to the smallest detail, the atmosphere of the Mammoth cabinet is presented.
Ivan Aivazovsky Painting