Petrovich Tchistyakov was born into the family of a serf, who served as
a manager of an estate. When the baby was baptized the family's owner gave
Pavel freedom for his father’s good work. At the age of 17 Pavel entered
the Academy of Arts; in 1861 he got Major Gold Medal for his picture
Duchess Sophia Vitovna (1861) and in 1862 went abroad as a
pensioner of the Academy.
return in 1870, Tchistyakov was awarded the title of Academician for 4
of his works (among them Roman Pauper 1867). The consequences
of a serious disease he had had in Italy made it difficult for him to paint.
Lots of his canvases remained unfinished. Only in 1876, he showed a new
picture Boyar (1876). This
portrait, fulfilled in Rembrandt’s style, was highly appraised by critics.
As a pair to this picture was his last finished work- Portrait of Mother
In 1890-1912, he was head of the mosaic department in the Academy of Arts,
he was responsible for the main mosaic projects in Russia: in the Cathedral
of Christ the Savior in Moscow, St. Isaac's Cathedral and the Cathedral
of the Resurrection in St. Petersburg.
Tchistyakov was immensely popular as a teacher. He began teaching very
early, while still a student (fom 1850). “I think I was born with talent
and love for teaching”, he wrote to P.A. Tretyakov. In 1872, he was invited
to teach in the Academy. At the same time he organized classes in his studio,
gave private lessons. During many years of teaching he created his own
system of teaching drawing. Among his pupils are very different but bright
and talented artists: Victor
Vasnetsov, Mikhail Vrubel,
Polenov, Ilya Repin, Andrey
Surikov and others.