Nikolai Samokish

Born: 1860, Nizhyn (Chernihiv Province)
Died: 1944, Simferopole

Painter, draughtsman, etcher, illustrator, teacher. Studied under Bogdan Gottfried Willewalde, Pavel Chistyakov, Valery Jacoby, Vladimir Orlovsky and Julius von Klever at the Imperial Academy of Arts (1878–85). Awarded minor gold medals (1881, 1884), Stroganov Prize (1883), major gold medal and the title of first-class artist (1885). Lived and worked in Paris, where he trained at the studio of French battle-painter Édouard Detaille (1885–88). Visited the Caucasus and painted three battle pictures for Tiflis Museum of Military History (1888). Married Elena Sudkovskaya (1889). Sketched manoeuvres for the Ministry of War (from 1890). Academician (1890), full member of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1913). Contributed 173 illustrations to four volumes of Royal Hunting in Russia (1896–1911), illustrated A Century of the Ministry of War and A History of the Dragoon Life Guards Regiment (1890s) and the works of Alexander Pushkin, Nikolai Gogol and Leo Tolstoy. Decorated one of the halls in the Tsarskoe Selo (now Vitebsk) Railway Station in St Petersburg (1901–04). Taught at the School of Drawing of the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts (1893–1917) and the Imperial Academy of Arts (1912–18). Lived in Eupatoria (1918–21) and Simferopole (from 1922), where he taught at his own private studio. Member of the Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia (from 1923). Lived with a Crimean Tatar called Roxanne, who became his common-law wife (1928). Taught at the Kharkiv Institute of Art (1936–41). Lived in Simferopole during the German occupation (1941–44). Unwittingly entered into an illegal marriage when the widow of a colleague, Natalia Dobrovolskaya, who stole his paintings and sold them to the Germans, used false documents to register their marriage, in order to pretend that she was the artist’s wife (1942). Died in Simferopole (1944). Contributed to exhibitions (from 1886). Contributed to the exhibitions of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1886–91), Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia (1925, 1926) and the Exposition Universelle in Paris (1900). Honoured Artist of the RSFSR (1937), winner of the Stalin Prize (1941).

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