Arthur Fonvizin the last watercolor knight

Arthur Fonvizin. Portrait of Seryozha's Son - 1943
Portrait of Seryozha’s Son – 1943

Vladimirovich Fonvizin is an outstanding Russian painter, a recognized master of watercolor painting of the XX century. When a campaign against formalism was launched in the USSR, the paintings and works of Arthur Fonvizin were harshly criticized for their “lack of ideology,” and the author himself was virtually deprived of his livelihood. Due to his loyalty to his creative manner, Fonvizin inspired many young non-conformist artists.

Arthur Fonvizin. Portrait of actress Daria Zerkalova
Portrait of actress Daria Zerkalova

Arthur Fonvizin since childhood suffered from autism, until the age of seven he practically did not speak and was a closed, uncommunicative child. According to one version, an instant and radical change in the personality of the future virtuoso happened while visiting the Ciniselli circus. Shocked by the bright colors and the fantastic atmosphere of the holiday, the future artist not only began to speak, but also to create. The image of the circus is the only theme he addressed to the end of his days.

Arthur Fonvizin. Portrait of art critic Elena Tager - 1945
Portrait of art critic Elena Tager – 1945

Arthur Fonvizin became famous for his unique manner: touching, gentle, childish. The emotionality of his work bordered on frivolity, which is why the paintings during the artist’s life were not very popular. However, later he received public, and a few years before his death and state recognition.

Biography of Arthur Fonvizin

Artur Vladimirovich Fonvizin was born on January 11, 1883 in the family of a forester. In 1889, after the family moved from Riga to Tula, the youngest son was sent to the gymnasium. It was during this period that a fateful visit to the circus takes place, after which a love for drawing awakens in a little boy. In 1900, he decides to stop studying in the fifth grade of the gymnasium and begins to prepare for the entrance exams to the art school.

Arthur Fonvizin. Portrait of Elena Tager in a hat - 1950s
Portrait of Elena Tager in a hat – 1950s

After successfully entering the Moscow School, a freshly baked student meets the avant-garde artist Mikhail Larionov and the symbolist Pavel Kuznetsov, one of the leaders of the Blue Rose creative community.

A few years later, the painter visits Germany: a powerful diaspora of domestic painters had already gathered in Munich at that time, represented by Grabar, Kandinsky, Petrov-Vodkin and others.

Arthur Fonvizin. Portrait of Lucie Yumasheva - 1945
Portrait of Lucie Yumasheva – 1945

There he studied art from German masters, mastered watercolor, was engaged in drawing from nature.

When the First World War began, the artist moved to Tambov, where he studied and worked closely on the creation of his own exhibitions. Later, upon returning to the capital, he becomes a member of several large unions. During this period, Fonvizin finally chose watercolor as his main technique, which later became his creative destiny.

Arthur Fonvizin. opera singer Maria Maksakova - late 1940s
opera singer Maria Maksakova – late 1940s

A year after the debut exhibition, held in 1936, a publication was published with an exposing criticism of the work of Arthur Fonvizin. Due to public accusations of formalism, several publishing houses stop working with him, but at a meeting on this case, the painter receives the support of famous figures, among whom were Alexander Drevin and Dmitry Moor.

ballerina M. V. Kolpakcha - 1956
ballerina M. V. Kolpakcha – 1956

During the Great Patriotic War, due to his German origin, Fonvizin was sent to Karaganda, where he began a famous series of works dedicated to the city of exile. After the collective petition of a group of artists, among whom were Vera Mukhina and Pyotr Konchalovsky, Artur Vladimirovich and his family get the opportunity to return to Moscow.

For several years he has been working continuously and regularly organizes exhibitions of his works.

The master received the medal of the World Exhibition in 1958. One of the portraits made in watercolor technique deserved such a high assessment. The heroes of his paintings are the ballerinas of the State Academic Bolshoi Theater. Two years later, the artist’s illustrations for the famous fairy tale by Hoffmann “Little Tsakhes” are bought by the Museum named after A.S. Pushkin.

Carmen - Portrait of Alla Belyakova - 1959
Carmen – Portrait of Alla Belyakova – 1959

With this money, the watercolorist buys a house in the village, where he continues his creative activity. The House of the Union of Artists became the venue for the last exhibition entirely dedicated to the master’s works. A year later, the artist became the owner of the honorary state award “Honored Art Worker”. On August 19, 1973, at the age of 90, Arthur Fonvizin died, leaving behind hundreds of brilliant watercolor paintings.

The most famous paintings by Arthur Fonvizin

Most of the watercolor paintings by Arthur Fonvizin are made in an original manner. The master did not use any preliminary pencil sketches and immediately applied paint to the surface of the canvas. Among the best works of the painter, the following can be noted:

  1. “The circus. Horsewoman “(1936) is a vivid example of the artist’s passion for circus art. The author carried echoes of the brightest childhood impression throughout his life.
  2. “Love” (1940s) in this picture, the master combined the aesthetics of theatrical grace and echoes of pre-revolutionary Russia.
  3. The Rider (1950s) is another tribute to the mesmerizing circus lights that prompted the young Fonvizin to take up painting.
  4. “Portrait of the Ballerina Lucia Yumasheva” (late 1950s) is the best work in a series of portraits of ballerinas of the Bolshoi Theater.
  5. Galina Vishnevskaya as Natasha Rostova (early 1960s) is an example of brilliant portraiture in watercolor technique.
Galina Vishnevskaya as Natasha Rostova - 1960-1962
Galina Vishnevskaya as Natasha Rostova – 1960-1962
Lady in pink. Arthur Fonvizin
Lady in pink
Portrait of a wife - early 1940s
Portrait of a wife – early 1940s
Portrait of a Wife with a Book - 1934
Wife with a Book – 1934
Portrait of a Woman - 1940s
Portrait of a Woman – 1940s
Portrait of the ballerina Lucia Yumasheva
Ballerina Lucia Yumasheva
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