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So, after plenty of recommendations, I finally got around to starting with the @HBO series #Chernobyl over the weekend, and watched the 3rd episode last night.
Before I go and elaborate, a shout-out to the creators @clmazin et al, for this scene.
@HBO @clmazin Let's look at the painting on the back wall, and its placement at this point in the episode.
What is this painting? What is its significance? #Thread
@HBO @clmazin Even while engrossed in the looming sense of doom, this painting stands out. I knew I had seen it somewhere during my time in Russia.

The painting is called Иван Грозный и сын его Иван 16 ноября 1581 года -
Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan on November 16, 1581
@HBO @clmazin The painting was made in 1885 (300 years after the date of the incident in the painting) and was made by the famous Russian painter Ilya Repin.
@HBO @clmazin Here's why the placement of the painting in Episode 3 of the series was no accident.
The scene in the series is a meeting at the Kremlin chaired by General Secretary Gorbachev. But, the painting was NEVER exhibited in the Kremlin.
@HBO @clmazin After he completed it, Repin sold it to Pavel Tretyakov. Here's the painting in all its glory at the Tretyakov Gallery, in Moscow.
@HBO @clmazin But, as you can see in the pictures below, the painting in #Chernobyl is a cropped version, placing the two subjects in greater detail.
@HBO @clmazin What does the painting show?
Ivan the Terrible, the Tsar of Russia, is holding his son (also called Ivan), in his arms, while Ivan Jr. (the Tsarevich or crown prince) is bleeding profusely from his temple.
A close-up.
@HBO @clmazin How did this come to pass?

The background story is that (and yes, there are counter narratives that disagree with this version) Ivan Sr. disagreed with his daughter-in-law's attire and struck her due to which she suffered a miscarriage.
@HBO @clmazin Enraged, Ivan Jr. argued with his father, during which the Tsar raised his sceptre and struck his son.

Sure enough, the painting shows Ivan's sceptre lying on the ground.
@HBO @clmazin Now look, closely at Ivan Sr.'s face, the horror writ upon it.
The irreversible course that his actions have initiated.
He begins to understand the magnitude and outcome that would befall him, his family and his country.
@HBO @clmazin Since we're talking about things that happened in the Soviet Union, here's another.
"One must never place a loaded rifle on the stage if it isn't going to go off. It's wrong to make promises you don't mean to keep" - Anton Chekhov
@HBO @clmazin In other words, if something has no relevance in the story, it should not be there. So, what's the relevance of this painting in that scene?

To answer that, let's look at what happens next.
@HBO @clmazin The first time the painting appears in the series IIRC is this scene. The painting is clear in the background with a pensive Legasov sitting in the foreground, but blurred.
@HBO @clmazin Then, Boris Shcherbina is shown walking and the painting is shown front and center, framed by the blinding white, spiralling pillars of the corridor.
@HBO @clmazin Then they are called in for the meeting, where Shcherbina briefs the gathered high officials of the Soviet Union on the progress. He gives the "good news".
It is up to the pensive Legasov to give the bad news.
@HBO @clmazin He says, "Now, I'm afraid, a long war must begin". He elaborates on the work that needs to be done and says that 750,000 men would be needed for the arduous task ahead.
@HBO @clmazin And then Gorbachev asks him, "How many deaths?" Legasov responds, "Thousands. Perhaps tens of thousands."
A similar sense of horror descends upon the room.

Sure, there's a call to immediate action from Gorbachev, but the horror is unmistakable.
@HBO @clmazin Gorbachev, perhaps the rough equivalent of the Tsar Ivan, realises what has befallen the Soviet Union, under his guard.
He faces a catastrophe in progress and impending death of thousands.
@HBO @clmazin Now comes the aftermath.

The bleeding Ivan Jr. succumbed to his wounds. Old Ivan Sr., upon his death is succeeded by his other son, the ineffectual, untrained Fyodor Ivanovich.
@HBO @clmazin With Fyodor's failure, the Rurik dynasty of Russia came to an end. It had ruled unimpeded from 1157, expanding from a strong principality in Kiev to one of the largest empires in area, in Ivan's time.
@HBO @clmazin Gorbachev, OTOH, was the last President of the Soviet Union, and presided over its dissolution as well.
@HBO @clmazin The end of the Rurik dynasty was followed by a long drawn out period of instability called Time of Troubles. The Rurik dynasty never came back to power.

It was the Romanovs that ruled until the Russian Revolution.
@HBO @clmazin Oh, on a side note, this painting is probably not on display at the Tretyakov gallery now as it was vandalised in May 2018 and is most likely under restoration.
@HBO @clmazin I'm sure the remaining episodes of the series are equally good. But this was a remarkable reference to a famous piece of art, so I thought I'll talk about it. Great going, @clmazin! #Chernobyl
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