1899. Oil on canvas. The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia. Read Note.
Gorky, Maxim, pen-name of Alexey Maximovich Peshkov (1868-1936) Russian novelist, born in Nizhni Novgorod. He was successively peddler, scullery boy, gardener, dock hand, tramp, and writer; he described his restless nomadic life in his autobiographical trilogy Childhood (1913-14), In the World (1915-16) and My Universities (1923). He first made his name with the story Chelkash (1895), followed by others in a romantic vein; the main characters of his stories were tramps and down-and-outs. Foma Gordeev (1890) marks his transition from romanticism to realism. In 1902, he writes his best play The Lower Depths. Participated in the revolutionary movement against tsarist regime in Russia, and was imprisoned in 1905; after that he had to leave Russia and until 1914 lived abroad. From 1922 to 1928 he lived abroad again on account of his health, but then he returned and supported the Soviet regime. It is unclear whether he did it whole-heartedly or out of fear of Stalinist repression.
Valentin Serov. Portrait of the Writer Maxim Gorky.