This portrait was painted in 1900. Nicholas II ordered it as a gift to his wife Alexandra Fedorovna. By the way, it was her fault that the process of creating the picture almost stopped. Valentin Serov hated interference in the creative process, and the sovereign’s wife, not embarrassed, took a brush and noticed out loud the flaws of the recreated image.
Not accustomed to restraining his judgments and views, Serov bluntly and with a slight grin suggested Alexandra Fedorovna herself to complete his work. As follows from historical records, after this, the king’s spouse did not dare to “teach” the creator anymore. It is worth noting that Valentin Aleksandrovich was just as bold and frank in the image of his models, which is why many customers were eager and at the same time afraid to pose for the master, being afraid to completely expose their not very attractive sides.
Nevertheless, contemporaries consider Serov's portrait undeniably and unanimously the best. He managed to capture the human essence of the Russian emperor. The last of the Romanovs is dressed in everyday military uniform, the pose is relaxed. In general, the whole appearance of Nicholas II is devoid of pathos and arrogance. A gentle and intelligent man with a clear dreamy look. In the eyes of the autocrat, anxiety and experience are read, he is beautiful and sad. This was also the personality of the emperor - a great, difficult, overly sensitive and delicate. The image of the tsar is devoid of characteristic officiality; it is a “homely” and surprisingly warm image, first of all, of a simple person, and not of the emperor.
With the help of restrained colors and light brush movements, Serov emphasized the youth of Nicholas II. Low-key tones of black, gray and brown shades give expressiveness to the face and focus on the eyes of the sovereign. The manner of execution of the picture is somewhat similar to the sketch, but well thought out and lyrical. Unfortunately, the original “Portrait of Nicholas II” was destroyed in 1917 during the storming of the Winter Palace. The original copy of the canvas is stored today in the Tretyakov Gallery.