Vasily Boiko-Veliky appealed this week to Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky and other officials to remove the 19th century Russian painter Ilya Repin's work from the prominent gallery, RIA Novosti reported.
Boiko-Veliky described the painting -- officially titled "Ivan the Terrible and his Son, Ivan," but colloquially called "Ivan the Terrible Killing His Son" -- as "slanderous" and "unpatriotic."
Ivan the Terrible, who ruled Russia in the 16th century, allegedly killed his son in a fit of rage. The monarch has been described as a cruel tyrant in history books but Boiko-Veliky said such accounts are untrue and Ivan was an upstanding historical figure.
Medinsky said Saturday that the painting will remain at the Tretyakov Gallery.
"I dare to hope that the authors who signed that letter, that they joked," Medinsky said during an interview on the Rossia television channel. "But frankly speaking, there are bad jokes."
Medinsky said although he does not believe Ivan killed his son, one must view the artwork and history separately.