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Russian Artist: Isaak Levitan

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by Nadia F., a Russian woman living in St Petersburg, Russia

Isaak Ilich Levitan

Birth Date: August 30, 1860
Death Date: August 4, 1900
Place of Birth: Kibarty, Lithuania

Isaak Ilich Levitan is a great Russian landscapist, whose work is a large contribution to the artistic culture of the mankind. Its significance is compared with the works of other Russian classics artists such as Anton Chekhov, Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Konstantin Stanislavsky. Isaak Levitan combined the features of many landscapes paintings of his century and raised the painting art to the new level.

The Levitan's life was hard and short. He experienced poverty, homeless orphanhood, national humiliation, and injustice. But he also knew the joy of recognition by his contemporaries and friendship with the best among them.

Isaak Ilich Levitan was born into an intellectual Jewish family on August 18 (30) 1860 in Kibarty, a small town in Lithuania. But his real spiritual Motherland became Moscow where he studied at the College of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture from 1873 till 1883.

His mother died in 1875 and father in 1877. He left homeless and often spent nights at school or relatives. Thanks to his talent and diligence Isaak Levitan graduated from the college, but he didn't obtain the Grand Silver medal.

The most important role in forming the Levitan's creative personality was played by his favorite teacher Alexey Savrasov, the most lyrical among the Russian landscapists of the 1860-70s, who exerted great influence, over many well-known painters of Levitan generation - Mikhail Nesterov, Konstantin Korovin, and others. His other teacher Vasily Polenov taught Isaak Levitan the sunny paintings and plain air.

The paintings of Isaak Levitan were usually quite small in size and modest in plot. He chose simple naive motifs of Russian land, mainly devoted to Levitan's favorite season - Spring.
He took part in several exhibitions and his paintings were very popular. His melancholy picture "A day in Autumn. Sokolniki" (1879) was bought by Tretyakov (the collector of the Russian art gallery).

In 1887 year Isaak Levitan came to Volga river, where he creates his famous works "Evening - Golden Plios", "After the Rain. Plyos", "Evening on the Volga".

The major works of Isaak Levitan"By the Deep Waters", "Over the Eternal Rest", "The Vladimirka Road", "March", "The Golden Autumn", "Apple Trees in Blossom"were written from 1892 to 1895. During this time Levitan visited the Russian towns of Vladimir, Vyshny Volochek, and Tver. He gifted his canvas "The Vladimirka Road" to the Tretyakov Gallery.

In 1898, already world-famous, Levitan was entitled the Academician of the Academy of arts and became the head of the Landscape Studio at his alma mater. He gives lessons in the Moscow College of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, where he had studied before himself.

His works include watercolor paintings, pastels, graphics, and illustrations. His paintings had a big success at the International Exhibition in Paris and at Munchen exhibition.

Isaak Levitan had a fatal illness and in spite of the treatment abroad, he died on August 22, 1900 and was buried at the Novodevichiye cemetery in Moscow, where many famous Russian artists, painters and actors found peace.

Some of his famous paintings:

  • Wood in Winter, 1885.
  • Stormy Day, 1897.
  • At the Shallow, 1892.
  • Above the Eternal Peace, 1894.
  • Golden Autumn, 1895.
  • Water Lilies on a Pond.
  • Evening Bells.
  • Portrait of Anton Chekhov (1860-1904).
  • Spring, High Water, 1897.
  • Self Portrait, 1890s.
  • Hayricks at Dusk, 1899.
  • Autumn day. Sokolniki.
  • Oak.
  • By the Seacoast.
  • Birch Tree Forest.
  • Mountain Range. Monc Blanc.
  • After the Rain. Plyos.
  • Small Hunt in a Meadow.
  • Overgrown Pond.
  • Evening. The Golden Pool.
  • Vladimirka road.
  • Spring in Italy.
  • By the Pool.
  • White Lilac.
  • March (1895).
  • Twilight.
  • Summer. Evening.


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