Ivan Nikitin was the favorite artist of Peter the Great. He was born in the family of a clergyman. He was educated initially in the Moscow State Armory and in the engraving workshop of Dutch artist, A. Schonbeck. In 1711, he was transferred to St. Petersburg and was appointed a court painter. His known works of that period are
In 1716-1720, Ivan Nikitin and his brother Roman Nikitin studied art in Italy, in Venice and Florence. His skills were greatly improved in Italy and he became the first Russian artist of European standard. His most notable works, which were created after his European voyage are Portrait of Count G. I. Golovkin (1720s), Portrait of Peter the Great (1720s), Portrait of the Hetman of Ukraine (1720s). In 1732, he and his brother were arrested for treason due to slanderous accusations and endured 5 years of imprisonment, interrogation and tortures in the Fortress of St. Peter and Paul. Then they were exiled to Tobolsk. They were acquitted only in 1741, but Nikitin died in 1742 on his way from exile.
Russian Art of Peter I the Great Period. Leningrad. 1990.
Russian Portrait of the 18th and 19th centuries in Russian Museums. Moscow. 1976.