Alexei Venetsianov

Born: 1780, Moscow
Died: 1847, Poddubye (Tver Province)

Painter, draughtsman, engraver, illustrator, teacher. Founder of the Russian school of genre painting and the first artist to depict realistic scenes from the lives of the peasants. Descended from Greek merchants who moved from Bulgaria to south Russia, where they took the name of Veneziano (1730s–40s). Born in Moscow to Gavrila Venetsianov and Anna Kalashnikova (1780). Educated at private boarding school and worked as a draughtsman in Moscow (from 1803). Moved to St Petersburg (1807), where he worked for the postal and forestry departments. Studied painting independently, copying works in the Imperial Hermitage and taking lessons from Vladimir Borovikovsky (from 1807). Painted portraits and contributed to an exhibition at the Imperial Academy of Arts (1811). Academician (1811). Etched anti-French caricatures during the Patriotic War (1812). Married Marfa Azarieva (1815) and bought the estate of Safonkovo in Tver Province (1818). Drew a vignette for Alexei Stog’s book On Public Welfare in Russia (1818). Resigned from the civil service and moved to Safonkovo (1819), where he painted genre scenes from life and founded a school of art for serfs (1820s). Appointed court painter to Tsar Nicholas I (1830). Taught many students, who formed the Venetsianov school and later paved the way for the development of Realism in Russian art (1830s–40s). Killed in a carriage accident while travelling to Tver and buried in the village of Dubrovsky (now Venetsianovo) in Tver Province (1847). Contributed to the exhibitions of the Imperial Academy of Arts and the Society for the Encouragement of Artists.

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