martes, 26 de julio de 2016


Christa Zaat

Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin (Ива́н Ива́нович Ши́шкин) (Russian landscape painter) 1832 - 1898
Лесной (Woodland), 1889
oil on canvas
100 x 74 cm. (39.4 x 29.1 in.)
signed and dated '89' (lower left)
private collection

Shishkin is a milepost in the development of Russian landscape painting, he is a whole school in one man. (Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoi, 1837-1887)

Primarily interested in landscape and the countryside, Shishkins work is dominated by the themes of forests and fields that envisage nature on a grand scale. From early in his career Shishkin developed a great interest in painting from nature and whilst studying at the Academy frequently chose to leave, what he considered to be the artificial constraints of the studio, to paint en plein, in the outskirts of St. Petersburg and on Valaam Island in Lake Ladoga in the north. And in 1860 he graduated from the Academy with a gold medal awarded for two works produced on the island. It was in the open air, in the forests and countryside of Russia that he developed the clear, naturalistic, and monumental style that brought him critical acclaim

Taking up his entitlement to a travel scholarship in 1862, he left for Europe, visiting Germany and Switzerland, but was constantly homesick for his beloved Russia and only felt comfortable in Prague whose people impressed him, and with whom he was happy to speak his native tongue. In Düsseldorf he caused a sensation with his skills as a draughtsman and recalled locals coming to ask him whether he was, that Russian, Shishkin, who did such marvellous drawings?

Returning to Russia in 1865 he received the title of Academician and began attending meetings of the Artists Artel where he was warmly received and appreciated.
A large and vital personality, Ilya Repin recalled the mighty Shishkin, with his huge draymans hands and coarse hard-worked fingers, and referring to the artist and his positive contribution to the group, likened him to an enormous green forest, who infected everyone with his health, jollity, good appetite and sincere Russian talk, a particularly apposite description for an artist who had spent the whole of his career exploring the nature of Russian woodland in its many moods and transient states, and whose work became lauded for its apparent ability to capture the essence of rural Russia and a pride in national identity.

Shishkin very quickly became associated with the Peredvizhniki, who had seceded from the Academy only two years before his return. He formed a great friendship with Ivan Kramskoi, one of the groups founding fathers, who was to say of him: He simply amazes us with his knowledgeAnd when he has the landscape before him it is as if he is in his element; immediately he is bold and agile and does not need to think about how, or whyI think he is the only one among us who knows nature in a scholarly way . However, Kramskoi was also to express concern at Shishkins striving for fine-detail in his work, which he felt was a distraction. At the second exhibition of the Peredvizhniki of 1872/74, Shishkin exhibited Backwoods, the painting for which he was made a professor.

During the 1880s the artist produced some of his most celebrated masterpieces, spending a considerable amount of time painting the thick forests on the outskirts of St. Petersburg. In the summer of 1889, (the year in which he completed Woodland, the offered work,) he visited the area around Petrozavodsk in Karelia, the densely forested region 190 miles north-east of St. Petersburg, and later travelled to Meri-Hovi, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, and Pavlovsk. Painting en plein he completed On the Shore of the Gulf of Finland (Udrias Near Narva), The Pavlovsk Park: Autumn, and also drew The Seashore: Meri-Hovi, and Forest Bog.

1889 was also the year in which Shishkin painted his celebrated canvas Morning in a Pine Forest, first exhibited at the Peredvizhnik exhibitions of the same year, and now in the Tretyakov Gallery. It was undertaken at the suggestion of his fellow Wanderer Konstantin Savitsky, who painted the bears in the composition.

* * *

Shishkin was born in Yelabuga of Vyatka Governorate (today Republic of Tatarstan), and graduated from the Kazan gymnasium. Then he studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture for four years. After that, he attended the Saint Petersburg Imperial Academy of Arts from 1856 to 1860, and graduated with the highest honours and a gold medal. He received the imperial scholarship for his further studies in Europe. Five years later Shishkin became a member of the Imperial Academy in St. Petersburg and was professor of painting from 1873 to 1898. At the same time, Shishkin headed the landscape painting class at the Highest Art School in St. Petersburg.
For some time, Shishkin lived and worked in Switzerland and Germany on scholarship from the St. Petersburg Imperial Academy of Arts. On his return to Saint Petersburg, he became a member of the Circle of the Itinerants and of the Society of Russian Watercolorists. He also took part in exhibitions at the Academy of Arts, the All Russian Exhibition in Moscow (1882), the Nizhniy Novgorod (1896), and the World Fairs (Paris, 1867 and 1878, and Vienna, 1873). Shishkin's painting method was based on analytical studies of nature. He became famous for his forest landscapes, and was also an outstanding draftsman and a printmaker.
Ivan Shishkin owned a dacha in Vyra, south of St. Petersburg. There he painted some of his finest landscapes. His works are notable for poetic depiction of seasons in the woods, wild nature, animals and birds. He died in 1898, in St. Petersburg, Russia, while working on his new painting.
A minor planet 3558 Shishkin, discovered by Soviet astronomer Lyudmila Zhuravlyova in 1978 is named after him.

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