Isaac Ilyich Levitan (born August 18, 1860 – died July 22, 1900) was a 19th-century Russian painter of Jewish origin, a master of the landscape genre, an academician and an art school teacher without a diploma in specialized education. After his death, Levitan’s paintings were added to the most famous museums in Russia.
Biography of Isaac Levitan
Isaac Levitan comes from a Jewish family from Kybarta, a small Lithuanian town in the Augustow province. The artist’s exact birthday is unknown.
The lack of decent work in Kybart affected the finances of the Levitan family, so in the late 1860s they moved to the capital. 13-year-old Isaac entered the School of Painting and Architecture, but there was not enough money to study. After the death of his parents, teachers helped the talented student, giving him paints, brushes and cash benefits.
The first painting by Levitan, which was highly appreciated by the public, was the painting “Autumn Day. Sokolniki. The painting presented at the student exhibition attracted the attention of the well-known philanthropist Pavel Tretyakov, who bought a landscape for his collection of paintings for 100 rubles.
In 1879, a royal decree was issued ordering the expulsion of all Jews from Moscow. Isaac with his brother and sister’s family stayed in Saltykovka, and he returned to the capital a year later, and then with the help of influential friends. Levitan completed his studies at the school, but instead of the title of class artist, he was given a diploma on acquiring the specialty “handwriting teacher”.
Levitan continued to improve his technique, took on any orders and even slightly improved his financial situation. In 1885 he settled in Maksimovka, a remote village in the Istra region, where he met and became friends with Anton Chekhov.
last years of life
At the same time, health problems appeared – malnutrition, hard work and constant anxiety exacerbated heart disease. In 1896 he went to the Crimea for treatment. From there, he returned with more than fifty Crimean landscapes, which he successfully sold at the Periodic Exhibition of Painting.
In the summer seasons of 1887-1890, he visited the Volga region several times, where he created about two hundred bright masterpieces, including the famous landscapes of the picturesque Plyos. In the winter of 1889-1990, the artist went to Europe, where he visited the World Exhibition in Paris and visited Italy. From a trip abroad, he brought back several interesting Mediterranean landscapes.
Another surge of anti-Jewish sentiment forced Levitan to leave the capital. Being in exile had a negative impact on the artist’s health, but he continued to paint and created a large number of still lifes.
1898 turned out to be a landmark year – Levitan became an academician of landscape painting and received the position of head of the workshop in his native school. In the late spring of 1900, the painter caught a cold and died on July 22 from complications.