Boris Kustodiev was a talented genre-painter, master of psychological portraiture, book illustrator and stage-set artist.
Boris was born on February 23 (March 7), 1878 in Astrakhan into a family of a school teacher. His father died when the future artist was less than two years old and all financial and material burdens lay on his mother’s shoulders. In 1887 he visited an exhibition of peredvizhniki which made a tremendous impression on him. Despite financial difficulties his mother sent him to have lessons with a local artist and teacher A. Vlasov.
In 1896 he entered the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. He studied in Ilya Repin’s studio. Kustodiev was Repin’s assistant when he was commissioned to paint a large-scale canvas to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the State Council – the picture The Ceremonial Meeting of the State Council on May 7, 1901 (1901-03, Russian Museum, St. Petersburg).