Ivan Kramskoi (born June 8, 1837 died April 5, 1887) was a famous Russian portrait painter and one of the main organizers of the Wanderers Association. Ivan Kramskoy always remembered the high role of the artist in society and urged his colleagues not to forget about the moral side of art. He became one of the founders of realism in Russian painting, and his students continued to develop this direction.
Biography of Ivan Kramskoi
At the age of 12, Ivan Kramskoi graduated from a local school and then lost his father. Initial art education was fragmentary: a year of study in the icon painter’s studio, work as a photo retoucher, independent sketches in watercolor But this was enough to pass exams at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts at the age of twenty.
Ivan Kramskoi inscribed his name in the history of Russian art even before the creation of the main masterpieces. After studying at the Academy for six years and having already received a small gold medal, he refused to write the last competitive work. Thus, he voluntarily deprived himself of the opportunity to go to study abroad at the expense of the Academy. The other 13 students did the same, refusing to paint pictures on the theme of Scandinavian mythology, divorced from reality.
It was Kramskoy, on behalf of his comrades, who informed the Council of the Academy about this decision. He also became the head of the “Petersburg Artel of Artists”, organized immediately after this rebellion and existed from 1863 to 1871. At first, it was not easy for young painters, but fame came to them pretty quickly. However, the initial ideas formed under the influence of Chernyshevsky were quickly forgotten.
The artist still sought to create an advanced association that would change Russian classical art. And he succeeded in this: it became the Association of Traveling Art Exhibitions, which arose in 1870. Kramskoy’s works were exhibited with paintings by other Wanderers from their first exhibition until the portrait painter’s death.
In the early 1870s, Ivan Kramskoy became friends with Pavel Tretyakov, who commissioned him to paint many paintings. He often met and worked with Ivan Shishkin. Around the same period, there was a meeting with another friend and student the landscape painter Fyodor Vasiliev, who died early from consumption. In the early 1880s, Kramskoy’s relations with other Wanderers became strained. He urged his colleagues not to ossify, following the rules once chosen, but to change following the changes in society. He was reproached for the portraits of the royal family and adherence to pan-Slavism.
last years of life
The artist really set a goal to develop national art and self-consciousness, creating portraits of the best representatives of the era. He painted Leo Tolstoy, Sergei Aksakov, Ivan Shishkin, Vasily Perov, Ivan Aivazovsky, Arkhip Kuindzhi, Pavel Tretyakov, Dmitry Mendeleev and many other prominent figures of that time. He also portrayed the peasants, considering it important to capture the representatives of the common people.
Ivan Kramskoy died at the easel from heart disease. This happened on March 24 (April 5, according to the new style), 1887. He left four children born in a happy marriage with Sofia Prokhorova. The eldest son Nikolai became an architect, and daughter Sophia became a sought-after artist. Ilya Repin has repeatedly spoken of Kramskoy as his main mentor.