A Portrait of a Woman (Ivan Kranskoi, 1867)
Rusalki (Ivan Kramskoi, 1871)
In Slavic mythology, a rusalka (plural: rusalki) was a female ghost, nymph, succubus, or mermaid-like demoness that dwelt in a waterway. Most traditions said the rusalki were fish-women, who lived at the bottom of rivers. In the middle of the night, they would walk out to the bank and dance in meadows. If they saw handsome men, they would fascinate them with songs and dancing, mesmerise them, then lead the person away to the river floor to live with them.
A Portrait of the Author Graf Lev Tolstoy (Ivan Kramskoi, 1873)
Most portrayals of Tolstoy (1828-1910) in the West show him in his old age. This portrayal is from a period midway between his two masterwork novels, War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1879). Tolstoy has a larger reputation in the West than he does in Russia. In Orthodox circles, he is rather a sorry figure, as he ended his life as a heretic, who refused the last rites of the Church. Indeed, this is one of the reasons for his wide repute in the secular West. He was a man who undoubtedly had talent, but, he was an intellectual percursor of the Reds, and we should never forget that fact. If you wish to read great literature, read Dostoyevsky. In fact, a preference for Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy is a good litmus test. Most real Orthodox Christians prefer Dostoyevsky, most Orthodox who have taken on the morés of secularism or the Western confessions prefer Tolstoy. I have found it most accurate.