Vasily Surikov – master of historical paintings
Vasily Surikov was a great Russian painter, master of large-scale historical paintings.
The boy was born on January 12 (24), 1848 in Krasnoyarsk. His father Ivan Vasilievich Surikov worked as a collegiate registrar and his mother Praskovya Fyodorovna Torshina was a housewife. You know, the boy began to draw at an early age. Nikolai Grebenev was his first teacher. Actually, one of his earliest work was watercolor Rafts on the Yenisei (1862). Now the picture is in the museum-estate of V. Surikov in Krasnoyarsk.
His father died because of tuberculosis. The family owned a two-story house in those years and due to lack of money Praskovya Fyodorovna decided to lease the second floor for income.
After school Surikov found a job as clerk in the provincial administration, because the family had no money to continue his education in high school. While working in the provincial administration Surikov’s works were noticed by Yenisei governor P.N. Zamyatin. The governor found a patron – Peter Kuznetsov, who paid for Surikov’s studying at the Academy of Arts.
On December 11, 1868 Surikov went to St Petersburg but he couldn’t enter the Academy, and in May-July 1869 he studied at the St. Petersburg School of Drawing Society for the Encouragement of Artists. In the autumn of 1869 Vasily passed his exams and became a volunteer at the Academy of Arts, and a year later he became a pupil.
From 1869 to 1875 he studied at the Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg. While studying Surikov received four silver medals and several cash prizes. The first independent work View of the Monument to Peter I on the Senate Square in St. Petersburg (1870) was bought by P.I. Kuznetsov. It is interesting that the first version of the picture is now in the Krasnoyarsk State Art Museum, which was named after Vasily Ivanovich.
Surikov worked hard on the composition. Because of this, students nicknamed him Composer.
In the summer of 1873 Surikov came to Krasnoyarsk and for some time he lived in Khakassia. You know, in 1874 the artist gave Kuznetsov his picture Good Samaritan for which he received a small gold medal.
On November 4, 1875 Vasily graduated from the Academy. Two years later the artist moved to Moscow but he dreamed of returning to Krasnoyarsk.
On January 25, 1878 Surikov married Elizabeth Avgustovna Share (granddaughter of the Decembrist P. Svistunov) who gave birth to their two daughters – Olga and Elena. His daughter Olga gave birth to her daughter Natalia Konchalovskaya, who became the mother of two famous people in modern Russia – filmmaker and screenwriter Andrei Konchalovsky and director Nikita Mikhalkov.
Surikov admitted that his passion for music, in particular opera, helped in his work. Moreover, Pelevsky taught the artist to play the guitar.
In 1881, Surikov became a member of the Association of Traveling Art Exhibitions.
The painting Morning of the Strelets’ Execution tells the story of failed rebellion of the archers in 1698. In March 1698 the sister of Peter I, Princess Sophia said than the man who returned from Europe wasn’t her brother. 2200 archers rebelled and illegally arrived in Moscow to make Princess Sophia Alexeyevna a ruler of Russia. The rebels were captured and executed on October 10, 1698 in Moscow.
In 1883 Pavel Tretyakov bought the picture Menshikov in Berezovo. So, the artist had money for a trip abroad. He visited Germany, Italy, France, and Austria. The first study for Boyarynya Morozova appeared in 1881; Surikov began work on the picture itself three years later. In the picture Surikov succeeded in expressing the inner firmness, selflessness, courage and beauty of Russian man.
Painting Winter in Moscow was being created for three years. Officially the work was completed in 1887, shortly before the idea of creating the picture Stepan Razin. Almost for 3 years the artist made sketches in Siberia and the Don, looking for a prototype.
On April 8, 1888 his wife died and in early summer 1889 Surikov together with his daughters went to Krasnoyarsk, where he lived until the autumn of 1890. In Krasnoyarsk, the artist created painting The Taking of a Snow-Built Fortress (completed in 1891, is kept in the Russian Museum). At the International Exhibition in Paris in 1900 the picture was awarded a medal.
During his visit to Siberia Surikov studied the life and experiences of people. In 1891, the artist began working on the picture Yermak’s Subjugation of Siberia. The picture was finished in 1893. And in the same year Vasily became a member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. Suvorov Crossing the Alps (1899) developed the theme of the military heroism of the Russian people, which was started in Yermak’s Subjugation of Siberia.
In 1907, Surikov became a member of the Union of Russian Artists. Later, in 1910, the artist together with artist Pyotr Konchalovsky visited Spain.
Surikov died on March 6 (19), 1916 and was buried beside his wife at the Vagankovskoye Cemetery in Moscow. In 1959, a historical and biographical movie was filmed in memory of great artist.