In this painting, Litovchenko interprets how the meeting between Ivan IV and the English, Ambassador to Russia, Jerome Horsey, might have occurred after the infamous ruler, nearing his death, summoned the latter to exhibit his riches.
Ivan IV, also known as Ivan the Terrible, was the first czar, or absolute monarch, of Russia. He conquered much land eastward and centrally controlled the government. He was believed to be quite mentally ill and angry, yet very intelligent. Ivan crushed the power of the boyars (Russian nobility) during his rule after intense suspicions that they killed his mother when he was a child and his first wife in the beginning of his rule. Ivan the Terrible earned his nickname through his ruthless deeds , the many enemies he had towards the end of his rule, and the period of troubles he had left Russia in at the time of his death.
In this painting, Litovchenko portrays Ivan as a sickly old man on his throne, which was accurate, especially towards the ruler’s death. Many treasures are seen scattered around the room, on display to the ambassador and the room is very elaborate, with beautiful, intricate arches. The absolutist was indeed wealthy, having conquered rich lands. The fact that Ivan personally invited Horsey to his land proves his alliance with England and Queen Elizabeth, although he was quite sick. This also shows the ruler’s strange mentality. All in all, Litovchenko accurately depicts the event of Ivan the Terrible showing his treasures to Jerome Horsey.