The State Museum of Fine Arts of the Republic of Tatarstan
Pavel Benkov painted this image of the beautiful Tamara Popova in the workshops of the Kazan Art School, where she studied. The School’s students often posed for teachers and each other.
Benkov saw special inner harmony in Tamara’s distinctive appearance. The image he created is sublime and peaceful. At the sight of these type of female faces, Pavel Petrovich would exclaim: one should paint this according to the recipe of the old masters! To make the model’s face matte and beautiful in tone, he applied tempera paint under the oils. The carefully painted face stands out from the sketch of the dress and the background.
Tamara Popova’s fellow student Alexander Rodchenko, the future avant-garde artist and photographer, was in love with her. The young Rodchenko admired everything Japanese and he also found Eastern refinement in his classmate’s appearance.
Rodchenko painted Popova in the style of Beardsley, the decadent English graphic artist. Before his meeting with Varvara Stepanova (also a prominent Soviet avant-garde artist and his future wife), Tamara Popova was often mentioned in his youthful diary.