Leonid Solomatkin

Born: 1837, Sudzha (Kursk Province)
Died: 1883, St Petersburg

Painter. Orphaned soon after he was born to a family of poor peasants (1837). Worked as a shepherd boy and a homeless carter. Travelled across Russia, selling icons and making sketches of street acrobats, organ-grinders, beggars and tramps. Studied under Apollon Mokritsky at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1855–60) and at the Imperial Academy of Arts (1861–66). Painted genre scenes from the lives of the lower classes and the world of travelling actors. Followed the traditions of Pavel Fedotov and the Dutch seventeenth-century masters, whom he studied in the Hermitage. Awarded silver medals (1864), but abandoned his studies after receiving the title of third-degree artist and fourteenth-class rank (1866). Stopped exhibiting and was quickly forgotten (late 1860s). Constantly suffered from poverty, homelessness and alcoholism (1870s). Died of consumption in a hospital for the poor in St Petersburg (1883). Contributed to exhibitions (from 1860).

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