On the 115th anniversary of Ivan Shishkin's death

Shishkin passed away on March 20, 1898, in his studio behind the easel, on which the embryonic "Forest Kingdom" had just begun. // "Forest cemetery", 1893

Shishkin passed away on March 20, 1898, in his studio behind the easel, on which the embryonic "Forest Kingdom" had just begun. // "Forest cemetery", 1893

Ivan Shishkin

Ivan Shishkin was born on January 25, 1832, in Yelabugа, a small provincial town situated on the banks of the Kama River. He entered the Moscow School of Painting and Sculpture at the relatively late age of 20, having struggled to overcome the patriarchal foundation of his family, who opposed his desire to become an artist. // "Noon, suburbs of Moscow, Bratsevo", 1866
In school, Shishkin was immediately drawn to landscape painting. The artist was forever sketching and drawing in the Sokolniki forest area in suburban Moscow. He studied the shape of plants and vegetation, delving deep into the anatomy of nature with great enthusiasm. // "Herd under the trees", 1864
Seeking to enhance his skills even further, in January 1856 the artist headed to St. Petersburg to enrol in the Academy of Fine Arts. From that moment on, Shishkin’s creative biography is closely linked with the northern capital, where he lived out the rest of his days. // "View in the vicinity of St.Petersburg", 1856
The Valaam Archipelago, which was a summer haunt for nature and landscape students, became for Shishkin a true finishing school. He was fascinated by the wild, virgin nature of the harsh but beautiful islands with their granite rocks and centuries-old pine and spruce. // "Pine on the cliff", 1855
The epic poise of the Russian forest and the inescapable and elemental belonging of Russian nature in Shishkin’s oeuvre began with the painting "Lumbering" (1867). Thereafter, the theme of the Russian forest continued to the end of the artist's life, never running dry. // "Lumbering", 1867
Starting with the 1st Circulating Exhibition, Shishkin participated in expositions over a 25-year period. As one of the founders of the Association of Circulating Art Exhibitions, Shishkin became friends with Konstantin Savitsky, Ivan Kramskoy, and later, in the 1870s, Arkhip Kuindzhi. // "The road in the rye", 1866
In April 1874, Shiskin’s first wife Yevgenia died, and soon afterwards their young son. Weighed down by personal sorrow, he temporarily abandoned his work. But by 1875, at the 4th Circulating Exhibition, Shishkin was able to present a series of pictures. // "Wood in the evening", 1869
In some works, the artist achieves a high poetic abstraction, without ever neglecting to convey a minute level of detail. For the 1870s, an example thereof was “Rye” (1878). The title "Rye" expresses to a certain extent the essence of the rendering, in which everything is sagaciously simple, yet profound. // "Rye", 1878
In the 1880s, Shishkin created many paintings in which he returned to the subject of the Baltic coast: "Stream in a Forest”, 1880, "Pine Forest", 1885, "Nook of an Overgrown Garden. Goutweed", 1884, "Off the Coast of the Gulf of Finland" (Udrias near Narva)", 1888, and etc. // "On the shore of the gulf of Finland Udrias near Narva", 1888
In the 1880s and 1890s, the artist was increasingly attracted by the fickle condition of nature, its fleeting moments. Due to his interest in light, airy environments and coloring, now more than ever his creations become imbued with such elements. An example is the poetic motif and artistic harmony of "Misty Morning", 1885. // "Misty morning", 1885
Evidently, the success of "Fog in a Pine Forest" at the circulating exhibition in Moscow motivated Shishkin to paint a similar landscape with a distinctive genre scene featuring playful bears. The delightful genre motif introduced into the picture has greatly contributed to its enduring popularity, but the true value of the piece is the perfect expression of nature. // "Park in Pavlovsk", 1889
Among the artist's most famous works is "Morning in a Pine Forest." It is not simply a lonely pine forest, but morning in the forest, with its lingering fog, the pinkish hue of the crowns of the immense pines, and the cool shadows of the thickets. The presence of the bear family at the edge produces a sense of the remoteness and deafening stillness of the wild forest. By the way, the bears were painted by the other master - Konstantin Savitsky.// "Morning in a Pine Forest", 1889
At the turn of the 1880-90s, Shishkin turned to the relatively uncommon (for him) theme of nature’s winter torpor in the large "Winter" (1890), having set himself the difficult task of conveying visible reflexes and a near monochrome painting. // "In the wild north", 1891
On the eve of the 20th century, when various trends and directions were emerging and the search was on for new artistic styles, Shishkin continued steadily along his chosen path, creating true-to-life images of Russian nature. "Ship Grove" (1898) provided a fitting end to his creative journey. It was the last and conclusive image of his own personal epic. // "Mast tree grove", 1898
Shishkin passed away on March 20, 1898, in his studio behind the easel, on which the embryonic "Forest Kingdom" had just begun. // "Forest cemetery", 1893

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