Nikolai Ge

Born: 1831, Voronezh
Died: 1894, Ivanovsky (Chernihiv Province)

Painter, draughtsman. Great-grandson of a French émigré, who fled to Moscow after the French Revolution. Studied at grammar school in Kiev (1841–47) and at the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics of Kiev University (1847–48) and St Petersburg University (1848–50). Abandoned his studies and enrolled at the Imperial Academy of Arts (1850), where he trained under Pyotr Basin and was influenced by the works of Karl Brullov (1850–57). Married Anna Zabela (1831–1891), sister of sculptor and fellow student Parmen Zabello (1830–1917), falling in love with her after seeing only her letters to her brother (1856). Awarded a gold medal and a foreign fellowship (1857). Travelled to Paris, where he visited the Salon and the posthumous exhibition of the works of Paul Delaroche (1857). Visited Switzerland and Munich (1857), lived in Rome (1857–60) and Florence (1860–63). Professor of history and portrait painting (1863), full member of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1872). After a short stay in St Petersburg (1863–64) returned to Florence (1864–69), where he met Alexander Herzen and painted studies on Gospel subjects. Lived and worked in St Petersburg (1870–76), where he painted portraits of Russian writers and subjects from Russian history. Founding member of the Society of Travelling Art Exhibitions (1870). Moved to Chernihiv Province in the Ukraine, where he bought a farm called Ivanovsky near the small village of Pliski (1876). Met Leo Tolstoy in Moscow (1882) and adopted his teachings and lifestyle (1880s), which caused a conflict with his wife and youngest son Pyotr (who later married Ekaterina Zabela, sister-in-law of Mikhail Vrubel). Painted portraits and a series of works on the theme of the Crucifixion (1889–94), many of which were banned for blasphemy and could only be shown abroad. Died and buried at Ivanovsky (1894). Contributed to exhibitions (from 1855). Contributed to the exhibitions of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1855–63, 1873, 1881), Society of Travelling Art Exhibitions (1871–94), World Exhibitions in Paris (1867, 1868) and Vienna (1873) and the international exhibitions in Munich (1869) and London (1873). One-man show at the Imperial Academy of Arts (1870).

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