Vasily Tropinin was one of the
major Russian artists active in the first half of the XIX century. He was
born as a serf of Count A. Munich and then was given as a part of Munich's
daughter's dowry to Count I. Morkov. Although his artistic talent and desire
to paint were expressed early, he was sent by Count Morkov to St. Petersburg
to learn to be a confectioner. During those years Tropinin managed to attend
now and then free drawing lessons in the Academy of Arts, until in 1799,
at the age of 23, he was sent by his owner to study art in the Academy.
He took lessons from S. S. Schukin. In 1804 his work
Boy Grieving for
a Dead Bird was exhibited in the Annual Academy of Arts exhibition
and was noted by Russian Empress. The President of the Academy of Arts
Count Stroganoff was going to intercede on behalf of Tropinin to get him
freedom. Count Morkov, afraid of losing such a valuable possession, urgently
recalled Tropinin from St. Petersburg to his Ukrainian estate Kupavka.
There the artist was crudely reminded that he was only a slave. He was
appointed a confectioner and a lackey, also he had to copy the works of
European and Russian painters and produce portraits of the Morkovs. During
the following years (1804-1821) in Ukraine, with occasional travels with
the Morkovs to Moscow Tropinin continued to study art. He created a lot
of portraits, landscapes and genre pictures. The most notable works of
this period are Portrait of A. I. Tropinina,
the Artist's Wife (1809), Head
of a Boy. Portrait of A. V. Tropinin (About 1818), Portrait
of the Writer and Historian N. M. Karamzin (1818).
In 1821, Tropinin with the
family of Count I. Morkov moved to Moscow. Although Tropinin was still
a serf, he was well known as a talented artist and his friends continued
to persuade Count Morkov to give him freedom. In 1823, at the age of 47,
Tropinin was finally released from bondage. In the same year he submitted
the pictures The Lace-Maker
Old Beggar (1823), Portrait of E. O. Skotnikov (1821)
Portrait of K. A. Leberecht
(1824) to the Academy of Arts and was nominated an academician.
The following years were
the most prolific for Tropinin. He settled in Moscow and opened up his
own art studio. Already the well known artist he continued to paint portraits.
His models ranged from peasants to the members of the most noble Russian
families. The best of his works are Portrait
of K. G. Ravich (1823), Gold-Embroideress
(1826), Portrait of Alexander Pushkin
(1827), Portrait of Countess N. A. Zubova
(1834), Woman in the Window (Wife of a
with Brushes and a Palette Against a Window Facing the Kremlin
(1844), Portrait of Yu. F. Samarin in a
Hunting Dress (1846),
with a Pot of Roses (1850), Old
Woman with a Hen (Portrait of the Artist's Wife) (1856). Tropinin
died on 3rd of May, 1857 and was buried in Moscow.
Tropinin by E. Petinova. Russian Painters of the XIX century.