A Portrait of Anna Akhmatova
This painting literally “has my name on it”. How could I not include it in this series?
This isn’t only one of the most iconic paintings in Russian art, it’s one of the few works that’s known universally not only by artists, but by art-lovers throughout the world. It’s one of that select group of paintings that’ve passed into universal recognition. Of course, it’s “iconic”, in more ways than one. This work could only have been painted by an artist familiar with Orthodox iconography, by a craftsman totally familiar with and steeped in the long history of Russian religious art. It doesn’t bear its popular title of “Our Lady of Petrograd” in vain. There are many explicit Madonnas that don’t convey the power and force of this canvas. Not only is the specifically feminine power of maternity brought forth, it illustrates the special creative and regenerative power of women in general. In short, it illustrates why we need a “Mother of God” as well as God. Is this one of my favourite works? Need you ask?
Born: 23 February 1878, Astrakhan
Died: 26 May 1927, Leningrad
My work gives me heartaches, and these agitations, which go away after some three or four hours, often change into disappointments. My painting sometimes seems so unnecessary, and this junk and rubbish often shames me. I so love the vibrancy of colour, but, I can’t seem to transmit the full meaning of it all, and in this, I find tragedy.
This youth from beyond the Volga, talented beyond compare, is the splendour of our academy; he’s our hope for the future.
Boris Mikhailovich Kustodiev was born on 23 February (7 March, new style) 1878 into the family of an instructor at the local spiritual seminary. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in St Petersburg (1896-1903), where one of his instructors was the famed artist Ilya Repin. He belonged to the Mir Isskustva (World of Art) movement and was a member of the Union of Russian Artists. Ilya Repin had the young artist assist him in the painting of the monumental The Session of the Supreme Council of State (1901-03, now in the Russian Museum in St Petersburg). At the same time, his skill as a virtuoso portraitist was evident, as seen in his A Portrait of Ivan Bilibin (1901). Later, from 1908, he also worked in the field of sculptural portraiture. In addition, during 1905 to 1907, he drew caricatures for the magazines Zhupel (Bugaboo) and Adskaya Pochta (The Infernal Mail).
He lived in St Petersburg and Moscow, but, he frequently travelled into the most picturesque corners of the Russian provinces, most of all into the cities and villages of the Volga region where he was born, and he made depicted its traditional way of life in his cycles Carnivals, Rural Holidays, and Fairs, and he also painted the varied colourful human types found there in the cycles Merchants, Merchant Wives, and Beauties in the Bath. The first picture of this type was The Fair (1906, now in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow), it was intended to be part of an unpublished series of lubki (popular prints). This series and related canvasses, such as A Portrait of Fyodor Shalyapin (1922, in the Russian Museum) are similar to colourful prints depicting Old Russia. He perceived the Revolution as a bright carnival, a spirit shown in The Bolshevik (1920, now in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow), done in the style of the old traditional lubki.
By 1916, paralysis left Kustodiev in a wheelchair, but, he continued to actively work in different media of art, continuing his popular Volga cycle. After the Revolution, he created his best book illustrations, especially for Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District by Nikolai Leskov and Russia by Zamyatin. Boris Mikhailovich died in Leningrad on 26 May 1927.
Art Katalog: zhivopis i grafika
http://www.art-catalog.ru/artist.php?id_artist=12 (in Russian)