Mikhail Nesterov

Born: 1862, Ufa
Died: 1942, Moscow

Painter, graphic artist, writer. Born in a merchant’s family in Ufa (1862). Studied under Vasily Perov, Illarion Pryanishnikov, Pyotr Sorokin and Alexei Savrasov at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1877–81, 1884–86) and under Pavel Chistyakov at the Imperial Academy of Arts (1881–82). Awarded the title of free artist (1885), class artist (1886) and a major silver medal (1886). Academician (1898), full member of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1910). Painted history pictures on the theme of pre-Petrine Russia (1880s) and illustrated the works of Alexander Pushkin, Nikolai Gogol and Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1885). Married Maria Martynovskaya (1885), who died after giving birth to their daughter Olga (1886). Worked at Abramtsevo and the St Sergius Monastery of the Trinity (1888–95), painting poetic figures of women in melancholic Russian landscapes (late 1880s) and a cycle of works dedicated to St Sergius of Radonezh (1889–99). Visited Vienna, Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples, Capri, Paris and Dresden (1889) and travelled to Rome, Palermo, Constantinople and Ravenna to study Byzantine art (1890). Decorated St Vladimir’s Cathedral in Kiev (1890–95), Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood in St Petersburg (1892–96), Grand Duke Georgy Alexandrovich’s Church of St Alexander Nevsky at Abas Tuman in Georgia (1898–1904), Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fyodorovna’s Convent of St Martha and St Mary at 34 Bolshaya Ordynka Street in Moscow (1908–11) and the Trinity Cathedral at Sumy in the Ukraine (1913–14). Member of the Society of Travelling Art Exhibitions (from 1896) and founding member of the Union of Russian Artists (1903). Travelled to the Solovetsky Monastery (1901) and painted a large picture on the theme of Holy Russia (1902), which he exhibited in Kiev (1902), where it was seen by Ekaterina Vasilyeva, whom he married several months later (1902). Painted a series of works addressing the unhappy fate of Russian women (1896–1905) and the union of man and nature (1905–06). Visited France (1905) and Italy (1908, 1911). Lived in Armavir in Krasnodar Region during the Russian Civil War (1918–19). Returned to Moscow (1920), where he was forced to abandon religious painting. Wrote memoirs (1926–42) and mostly painted portraits of philosophers, writers, artists, architects and scientists (1921–40). Arrested and held for two weeks at Butyrki Prison in Moscow, while his son-in-law Vladimir Schroeter was executed for espionage and his daughter Olga was exiled to Dzhambul in Kazakhstan (1938). Died in Moscow and buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery (1942). Contributed to exhibitions (from 1879). Contributed to the exhibitions of the Society of Travelling Art Exhibitions (1889–1901), World of Art (1899–1901), 36 Artists (1901–03), Union of Russian Artists (1922, 1923), Pan-Russian Exhibition in Nizhny Novgorod (1896), Exposition Universelle in Paris (1900), international exhibitions in Munich (1898, 1909) and Rome (1911), Die erste russische Kunstausstellung in Berlin (1922), exhibition of Russian art in New York (1924) and one-man shows in St Petersburg (1907) and Moscow (1907, 1935). Winner of the Stalin Prize (1941), Honoured Artist of the RSFSR (1942).

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