The contact of Tolstoy and Repin had lasted the longest time as long as 30 years. When Tolstoy was alive, Repin had made many creations for the image of Tolstoy. Repin drew more than 70 pieces of works about him in his whole life, including paintings, watercolors, drawings and sculptures. Portrait of Leo Tolstoy that is kept in Telieqiakefu Gallery now was one of the most outstanding portraits of Repin. The biggest feature of Repin was that he was good at portraying characters. Repin's amazing ability to portray the character and his modeling skills of using color were fully displayed in his portraits, making Repin become one of Russia's most excellent portrait painters. He made a series of portraits of Russian celebrities in literary and art circles and was famous for vivid depiction. Kramskoi once drew the portrait for Tolstoy, and focused on the image of Tolstoy as the social life analyst. In the portrait of Repin, Tolstoy was a great thinker and writer. He was like a Russian warrior and respected sage.
In this painting, Tolstoy was reading and it seemed that the contents of the book caused him to ponder deeply over it. The writer's wisdom eyes avoided the audience and looked far away, showing the concentrated thinking manner. The composition and the use of color were very simple and plain. From the writer's face, Repin saw a strong and noble man. At the same time, he was also a count with aristocratic demeanor. His polite attitude, proud and sharp eyes made all the people admire. He was full of great mental strength and conviction. The painter took great importance to the profound and complex psychological depiction of Tolstoy. All of these were showed in his posture, gestures and eye expressions.