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works of the wonderfully gifted landscape painter Feodor Alexandrovich
Vasilyev, who died very young, are of great importance for Russian culture.
Born into a poor family in 1850 he had to earn his living from the age
of 12 years – he worked as a mailman, scriber, assistant to a restorer
of pictures. After his father’s untimely death, he became the sole supporter
of the family. In 1865, he managed to enter the evening classes of the
School of Painting, sponsored by the Society for Promotion of Artists.
Vasilyev’s exceptional talent required perfection, but the artist’s hard
life barred its progress denying him the opportunity of a necessary technical
training. While at School, Vasilyev got acquainted with many painters,
who took care of him. He was especially friendly and close with Kramskoy
and Shishkin, who took Vasilyev
to work with them en plein-air and in travels throughout Russia.
In Vasilyev’s early works, such as After
a Thunderstorm (1868), Near
a Watering Place (1868) and others, one can feel the influence
of the Barbizon School; it affected his art but never resulted in a non-creative
borrowing of the motifs. Though, at first, Vasilyev was somewhat inferior
technically to the Barbizon painters, he eventually found his own way of
handling the subject and After a Rain
(1869) and After a Rain. Country
Road. exceed in many respects, the Barbizon stormy scenes in
their expressiveness and deeply national sound.
In 1870, Vasilyev traveled on the Volga, the picture Volga
View. Barges (1870) made him popular. In 1871, Vasilyev painted
(1871), which made him famous immediately, even the tzar family ordered
a copy, the Society for Promotion of Artists awarded him first prize, he
was admitted, as an intern, to the Academy of Arts. The Artist had not
time to enjoy his popularity – he got seriously ill and had to leave St.
Petersburg forever. He moved to Crimea. The Society for Promotion of Artists
sponsored his stay there, but he was obliged to pay with his paintings.
First Vasilyev could not get used to new scenery. He goes on to paint Russian
plains; his works, such as his masterpiece Wet
Meadow (1872), were done from memory, old sketches and imagination.
After some time Vasilyev started to draw Crimea, gradually beginning to
feel the attraction to its mountain views. In
the Mountains of Crimea (1873) was an outstanding work and
the last work of the artist. He died in autumn 1873, 23 years old.
At the posthumous exhibition in St. Petersburg all his works had been sold
even before the exhibition opened. What he did is enough to put Vasilyev
among the best masters of Russian landscape painting.
Feodor Vasilyev. Moscow. Izobrazitelnoe Iskusstvo. 1991.
Vasilyev by F. Maltseva. Russian Painters of the XIX century.
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