Alexei Savrasov – Russian landscape painter
Alexei Savrasov (1830-1897) was a Russian landscape painter, a founding member of the Peredvizhniki, the author of iconic landscape The Rooks Have Come Back.
Alexei was born on May 12 (24), 1830 in Moscow into a family of merchant Kondratiy Savrasov. In 1844, the boy entered the Moscow School of Painting and Sculpture.
In 1851 Savrasov painted View of the Kremlin from the Crimean Bridge in inclement weather and his name became known.
In the summer of 1854, he painted two pictures: View in the Environs of Oranienbaum and Coastline in the Environs of Oranienbaum, and was awarded the title of academician. The first picture was bought by Pavel Tretyakov in 1858.
In 1862 he traveled abroad: he was at the World Exhibition in London, visited France, Switzerland, Germany, painted a few landscapes in Switzerland.
The Savrasov’s most important work of the sixties was Elk Island (1869), which won first prize in a competition organized by the Moscow Society of Art Lovers.
In the late 1870s, Savrasov became ill with alcoholism and grim motifs appeared in his pictures. In 1882 he was dismissed from the Moscow School of Painting.
In the autumn of 1857, 27-year-old Savrasov married 31-year-old Sophia Karlovna Hertz (1826-1895), sister of well-known at that time archaeologist and art historian Karl Hertz. Their house became a meeting-place for artists and art-patrons, new works of literature were read, and there were lively discussions of the issues current in Russian society of the day. One of Savrasov’s closest friends was Vasily Perov, the initiator of the Peredvizhniki Society.
Alexei and Sophia had four daughters and one son. At the end of 1876 the marriage broke up.
In 1887-1888 Savrasov lived in Moscow with Vera Ivanovna Kindyakova. He painted a few pictures in her apartment. Since 1893 and until his death he lived together with Ekaterina Matveevna Morgunova. They had son Alexei Morgunov and daughter Nadezhda.
Savrasov died on September 26 (October 8), 1897 in Moscow at the hospital for the poor in Khitrovka. He was buried at the Vagankovskoye cemetery.
His pupil Isaak Levitan wrote: “One of the most profound Russian landscape-artists has passed away. With him, lyricism came to landscape-painting, and boundless love for one’s native land.”