Kondratyevich Savrasov is one of the Russia’s most remarkable landscape
painters, the originator of the so-called ‘mood landscape’. Savrasov was
born into the family of a merchant. He began to draw early; in 1838 he
enrolled as a student at the Moscow School of Painting and Sculpture (graduated
in 1850), and immediately began to specialize in landscape painting. His
efforts of the 1850s reveal the difficult process he was going through
trying to overcome the academic tradition in depicting landscape. The Russian
public liked his lyrical landscapes like View
of the Kremlin from the Krimsky Bridge in Inclement Weather
(1851) and gradually he made his name.
In 1852, the artist traveled to the Ukraine where he produced a series
of views of its rolling steppes The Steppe
in Daytime (1852), which reflect the various aspects of his
favorite subject, wide-open spaces. By the invitation of the Grand Duchess
Maria Nikolayevna, the President of the Russian Academy of Arts, who commissioned
several works from Savrasov, he moved to the shores of the Gulf of Finland
in the neighborhood of St. Petersburg. Though the scenery there was alien
to his spirit, he was able to find some innovations never seen in academic
landscape painting before. In 1854, for his pictures
in the Neighborhood of Oranienbaum and View
in the Neighborhood of Oranienbaum (1854) he was awarded the
title of Fellow of the Academy. In 1857, Savrasov became a teacher in the
Moscow School of Painting and Sculpture, from which he had graduated. His
best disciples Isaac Levitan
and Constantin Korovin always
remembered their teacher with admiration and gratefulness.
In the 1860s, he traveled to England and Switzerland. His introduction
to English landscape painting was most influential. The best works of the
View of the Swiss Alps from
Interlaken (1862), Rustic View
Rooks Have Come (1871) is considered by many critics to be
the highest point in Savrasov’s artistic career. Using a common, even trivial,
episode of birds returning home, and an extremely simple landscape, Savrasov
managed to show very emotionally the transition of nature from winter to
spring. It was a new type of lyrical landscape painting, called later
by critics ‘the mood landscape’. The picture made his name famous.
In the late 1870s and early 1880s there were many good landscapes, though
early spring in the countryside remained the favorite subject of the artist.
The most notable are A Winter Road
Country Road (1873),
of the Moscow Kremlin. Spring (1873), Spring
Thaw. Yaroslavl. (1874), Rainbow
(1875), A Provincial Cottage. Spring.
(1878), Landscape with a Rainbow
(1881), Sea of Mud (1894).
The misfortunes in his personal life, may be dissatisfaction with his artistic
career were the reason of his tragedy – he became an alcoholic. All attempts
of his relatives and friends to help him were in vain. The last years of
his life Savrasov led the life of a pauper, wandering from shelter to shelter.
Only the doorkeeper of the School of Painting and Pavel
Tretyakov (the founder of the Tretyakov Gallery) were present at his
Savrasov by F. Maltseva. Russian Painters of the XIX century.
Alexey Savrasov by F. Maltseva. Moscow. Iskusstvo. 1977.