Pavel Fedotov

Born: 1815, Moscow
Died: 1852, St Petersburg

Painter, draughtsman, poet. Born in the family of a poor civil servant in Moscow (1815). Studied at the First Moscow Military Academy (1826–33) and served in the Finland Life Guards Regiment in St Petersburg (1826–33). Attended evening classes at the Imperial Academy of Arts (1834–44) and resigned from the army in order to take up painting full-time (1844). Studied battle painting under Alexander Gottlob Sauerweid at the Imperial Academy of Arts (mid-1840s) until Ivan Krylov advised him to switch to genre scenes from the life of contemporary society. Started working in oil (1846), wrote verses to accompany his paintings and gave public readings. Academician (1848). Made drawings for Nikolai Nekrasov’s Illustrated Almanac (1847) and illustrated Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Buffoon for Yevstafy Bernadsky’s Satirical Leaflet (1848–49), both of which were seized by the censor. Persecuted by the government of Tsar Nicholas I for belonging to the Petrashevsky Circle, a group of reform-minded intellectuals arrested for discussing Western philosophy and utopian socialism (1849). Suffered from mental problems brought on by worry and overwork and died in a lunatic asylum on the Peterhof Highway outside St Petersburg (1852). Buried at the Smolensk Cemetery in St Petersburg and reinterred at the St Alexander Nevsky Monastery (1936). Contributed to the exhibitions of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1848, 1849, 1851), Rastopchin Gallery in Moscow and the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1850).

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