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Surikov, Vasily Ivanovich


Historical painter and portraitist. An outstanding master of composition and colour systems. Born to the family of a regional registrar. In 1869 he moved to St.Petersburg. From 1869-1875 he studied at the Academy of Arts under P.P.Chistyakov (from 1873). In 1874 he received a monetary prize for his sketch entitled "The Feast of Balthasar". In 1875 he starts work on a plan for the painting entitled "Apostle Paul Explains Religious Dogmas in the Presence of King Agrippa, his Sister Veronica and Proconsul Festus", which he entered in the gold medal competition at the Academy. In 1875 Surikov received a first-class art degree. From 1877-1878 he painted frescoes at the Cathedral of Our Saviour in Moscow using subjects taken from the history of the four Ecumenical Councils. He travelled a great deal across Russia visiting Siberia, the river Volga and the Crimea. He also travelled to Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Spain. From 1881 to 1907 Surikov was a member of the STAE. A full member of the Academy of Arts (from 1893) and an Academician from 1895. From 1903 an honourable member of the Moscow Society of Arts Lovers. His paintings represent the spirit of history, they reflect the natural force in popular life, the struggle and the suffering of an individual whose fate was tied up with the tragedy in the historical changes in society. As early as his students years at the Academy the young artist displayed extraordinary talent with composition and colour systems. However, he created his own style only when he moved to Moscow. "When I came to Moscow, I was truly saved" the artist recalled. In Moscow he found himself in the centre of Russian popular life, he found his own path. His painting Morning of the Streltsy Execution (1881) was displayed at the Peredvizhniki Ninth Exhibition and is full of the spirit of "old Russian beauty and a living awareness of history". All the artists later work confirmed his evident refusal to create academic paintings on a definite historical theme and his attempt to depict the spirit of the event, the past world not only in its daily features, but also in the sensations. The artist did not reconstruct historical reality in archaeological details, he seemed to sense the "living emanation of old stones [] just as a clairvoyant presses an object to his forehead and receives the vision of the events that refer to it". Surikovs creative work is a clear display of national popular art on a grand style. His paintings were the pinnacle of the development for the historical genre in Russian and world art. The artists heroes have bright Russian characters. They are the Streltsy, the nobles, Cossacks and undoubtedly they are a former people, but they also are the ancestors of those "semi-Byzantine, semi-Oriental, the strange and mysterious element which is part of Russian contemporary life". "Their sensuality is our sensuality, their wild complicated passions are our passions, their mystical charm is that very Russian charm that could not be washed away from the Russian people despite many years of corruption", wrote A.N.Benois.
Morning of the Execution of the Streltsy

oil on canvas
223 x 383,5
at 10, Lavrushinsky Lane, Hall 28

Menshikov in Berezovo

oil on canvas
169 x 204
at 10, Lavrushinsky Lane, Hall 28

Head of Boyarynya Morozova

oil on canvas
48,2 35,7

Boyarina Morozova

oil on canvas
304 x 587,5
at 10, Lavrushinsky Lane, Hall 28