Mikhail Mikeshin is a brilliant Russian artist who created the grandiose “Monument to the Millennium of Russia” in Veliky Novgorod
Mikhail Mikeshin (February 9, 1835 January 19, 1896) the famous Russian painter and sculptor of the second half of the XIX century, a bright representative of the realistic trend in art. Mikeshin is best known for the creation of monumental monuments of the historical genre, which still adorn the squares of different cities. Unfortunately, many of his masterpieces were destroyed during the Soviet period, and his paintings were banned for a long time. The biography of the master is an excellent example of a successful career as an artist a native of the Russian hinterland.
Mikhail Mikeshin was also a talented cartoonist and illustrator. He fruitfully worked in various genres of fine art, left to posterity a large number of portraits of his contemporaries, landscapes and paintings depicting the life of ordinary Russians.
Biography of Mikhail Mikeshin
Mikhail Mikeshin was born on February 9, 1835 in the village of Staroye Maksimkovo, Smolensk province. His father, Osip Yegorovich, came from a family of simple peasants and spent most of his life as a bailiff in salt mines in the vicinity of Roslavl. Misha was raised by his mother and grandfather; from childhood, they discovered a craving for art in the boy, taught him to play various musical instruments and encouraged his love of drawing.
At the age of 11, Mikhail moved to live in Roslavl, where he later graduated from a parish school and a vocational school, and then the young man was sent to study at the Smolensk gymnasium. But shortly before graduating from this educational institution, Mikeshin, along with his classmates, severely beat their friend, the son of the governor. For this offense they were expelled from the gymnasium. By that time, the young man had been studying the basics of painting for several years, first in the workshop of a local icon painter, and later in the studio of the artist Rokachevsky. But after being expelled from the gymnasium, Mikhail had to start a working career, and he got a job as a draftsman in a company that was engaged in the construction of the Varshavskoe highway on the territory of the Smolensk province.
Fortunately, in the life of Mikhail Mikeshin, an influential patron appeared very in time the wealthy landowner Alexander Vonlyarlyarsky. The brother of the famous Russian writer was able to discern great creative abilities in the young man and persuaded his parents to send their son to study painting in St. Petersburg. Moreover, Vonlyarlyarsky from his own funds paid the cost of training a young man at the Academy of Arts from 1852 to 1858.
Under the guidance of Professor Bogdan Pavlovich Villevalde, Mikhail Mikeshin achieved brilliant academic success.
He graduated with honors from the Academy, and his work has repeatedly received awards at annual exhibitions. One of the paintings of the young artist was even acquired by Tsar Nicholas II, after which he invited him to teach painting to his daughters.
After graduating from the academy, Mikeshin received the right to a paid trip to Europe for an internship, but refused a well-deserved award. Instead, he decided to take part in the competition for the creation of a monument dedicated to the millennium of Russia. Out of 53 submitted options, the authoritative commission chose his project, and the 24-year-old author himself received the first prize in the amount of 4,000 rubles.
After winning a prestigious competition, the young artist became widely known not only in Russia, but also abroad. In subsequent years, he created many patriotic monuments that were installed in different cities of the country. Moreover, the brilliant sculptor has repeatedly received orders for the construction of monuments from abroad and won international competitions. And at the age of 34, Mikhail Osipovich, in recognition of his outstanding services, was elected a member of the Academy of Arts.
Although the artist’s main income throughout his career came from the production of sculptural monuments
He was happy to engage in other types of creative activity. Mikeshin’s cartoons were periodically published in satirical magazines, and publishers constantly ordered illustrations for the works of Russian writers. In addition, until his death, he continued to paint, including portraits and genre works.
The personal life of Mikhail Osipovich was successful, he dearly loved his wife, with whom he lived for almost 30 years. In the artist’s marriage, the artist’s only son, Boris, was born, who, although he did not have an academic education, nevertheless, after the death of his father, became interested in art and became a famous self-taught sculptor.
The genius sculptor throughout his independent career did not lack money and by the end of his life he became a very wealthy person. He never complained about health problems and worked hard, getting real pleasure from the results of his labor. But on January 19, 1896, Mikhail Mikeshin died suddenly in his St. Petersburg home at the age of 60. And the artist’s grave is still in the cemetery of the ancient Alexander Nevsky Lavra.
The most famous works of Mikhail Mikeshin
The great Russian painter and sculptor has created many brilliant masterpieces of art during his career. And yet, the most famous works of Mikhail Mikeshin are rightfully considered:
- “Life-Hussars at the Watering Hole” (1853) is the first painting by the author, which brought him wide fame throughout the country. The artist painted it at the age of 18 for an academic exhibition, which earned praise from critics and the special favor of the Russian emperor.
- Monument to the Millennium of Russia (1862) a grandiose monument dedicated to the great anniversary. The sculptural composition consists of 128 figures of outstanding historical figures who made a great contribution to the formation and development of the Russian state.
- Monument to Catherine II (1873) is a masterpiece erected in honor of the great Russian empress in St. Petersburg. This monument, unlike most monuments of the tsarist era, successfully survived the Soviet regime and still stands in the center of Ostrovsky Square in St. Petersburg.
- Monument to Bohdan Khmelnitsky (1888) is a sculptural work installed in Kiev to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus. The monument dedicated to the famous hetman has long become a visiting card and one of the most recognizable symbols of the capital of Ukraine.
Mikhail Mikeshin was a very gifted creative person and deservedly achieved success at the dawn of his professional career. And its grandiose monuments have long been recognized as masterpieces of Russian and world fine art of the 19th century.