Yar-Kravchenko's painting depicts the writer, Maxim Gorky, reading his book to Joseph Stalin, Vyacheslav Molotov (USSR Minister for Foreign Affairs) and Kliment Voroshilov (Minister for Defence). Gorky's son stands behind him. On 11 October 1931, after the dinner party shown in the picture, Stalin famously proclaimed, "This thing is more powerful than Goethe's Faust!" The painting is the artist's version of the original 1949 painting, which won the Stalin Prize and was later purchased by the Tretyakov Gallery.
Oil on canvas
136 × 149 cm; 53½ × 58½ in.
Yar-Kravchenko was a prominent Soviet artist, who is best known for his graphic portraits. In 1939, he graduated from the Leningrad Institute of Art, Sculpture and Architecture. He joined the army in 1941 as a volunteer and served in the air force, as well as an illustrator for the army newspaper. He created several portraits of Joseph Stalin and over 300 portraits of famous Soviet writers. He won many state accolades, including the Stalin Prize in 1948 and the People's Artist in 1969.