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Isaak Ilyich Levitan - biography

Isaak Ilyich Levitan

Isaak Ilyich Levitan (Исаак Ильич Левитан) (1860-1900) - the Russian[ru] painter-itinerant. The largest master of Russian landscape painting of the late 19th century, laid the genre principles Symbolism and Art Nouveau. Academician of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1898). Zodiac sign - Virgo.

The largest master of Russian landscape of the end of 19 centuries, put in pawn in this genre symbolism and modernist style principles. The founder of «a mood landscape» in which are inherent riches of poetic associations, buoyant («March», 1895; «Lake. Russia», 1900) or mournful spirituality of an image («Over eternal rest», 1893-94), finding in a picture «Vladimirka» (1892) socially-critical colouring. In the pictures Levitan has opened the most thin of nature conditions. Plein-air, it is thin nuances painting.

I.I.Levitan. «Over eternal rest»

I.I.Levitan. «Over eternal rest». 1894. Tretjakovsky gallery

Isaak Levitan was born on August, 18th (on August, 30th) 1860, Kibarty, nowadays Kibartaj (Lithuania). The son of the railway employee. In the beginning 1870th years Levitan's family has moved to Moscow. In 1873-85 the future master studied in the Moscow school of painting, sculpturing and architecture where the greatest influence on it have rendered Vasily Dmitrievich Polenov and Alexey Kondratevich Savrasov. In Levitan's sketch «Concerning A.K.Savrasova's death» (1897) its own creative credo, that is refusal of the relation to a landscape «is formulated as to a beautiful combination of lines and subjects» - on purpose to represent «not so exclusively beautiful places», but «those intimate, deeply touching, often sad lines which so are strongly felt in our native landscape and so irresistibly operate on soul».

«Mood landscape»

Isaak Levitan lived mainly in Moscow. Worked also in Останкине (1880-83) and in various places of the Moscow and Tver provinces; in Crimea (1886, 1899), on Volga (1887-90), in Italy, France, Switzerland and Finland (1890th).

I.I.Levitan. «An evening ring»

I.I.Levitan. «An evening ring». 1892. Tretjakovsky gallery

The artist has overcome the conventions of the klassitsistsko-romantic landscape which partly has remained and at peredvizhniki. Levitanovsky «the mood landscape», at all its surprising natural reliability (the master usually carefully kept initial motive, only bringing in it separate corrective amendments), has found an unprecedented psychological saturation, expressing a life of human soul that peers into the nature as centre of inexplicable secrets of life which here are visible, but are inexpressible words.

The important role in Levitan's creativity was played by musical, poetic and philosophical associations (Arthur Schopenhauer's pessimism), and also its own person - sensual, amorous, at the same time inclined to attacks of the black melancholy, sharply worrying was its liked doctrine and own illness (he suffered a congenital heart disease), and all dramatic nature of position of Jews in imperial Russia. Therefore, having apprehended impressionism innovations, it was never given to pure, joyful game of light and colour, staying in a circle of the images fanned by world melancholy.

Russia Levitan

Already early jobs of the artist at times remind small lyrical short stories with the open end («Autumn day. Sokol'niki», 1879). Full blossoming Levitan's art as masters of a landscape-picture, able to transform simple motive in archetype an image of Russia, reaches in «Birchwood» (1885-89). The Same force of unostentatious generalisation ennobles products «the Volga period» («Evening on Volga», 1888; «Evening. A gold Reach», 1889; «After a rain.

A reach», 1889; and also picture thematically adjoining them «the Fresh wind. Volga», 1891-95; all - Tretjakovsky gallery). Poetic reminiscences it is unostentatious, without everyone striving after literary effect, give to many images - e.g., a picture «At a whirlpool» (1892, in the same place), written basically in manor Bernovo (nowadays the Tver area), connected with Alexander Sergeevicha Pushkin's poem «Mermaid», - special spirituality.

Levitan creates classical, unsurpassed samples of «a church landscape» where buildings of temples bring in the nature a pacification («the Evening ring», 1892, Tretjakovsky gallery) or, on the contrary, alarm, reminding about caducity of all terrestrial («Over eternal rest», 1893-94, in the same place). The civil grief is combined with religious in a picture «Vladimirka» (1892, in the same place) where on road on which drove prisoners to Siberia, it is visible only (in a characteristic manner for the master to reduce real human presence to a minimum, or in general to zero) a lonely figure of the wanderer near a roadside icon.

I.I.Levitan. «Vladimirka»

I.I.Levitan. «Vladimirka». 1892. Tretjakovsky gallery

Vital charm of paints in cloths «March» (1895, in the same place) or «Spring - the big water» (1897, in the same place) reaches apogee in extremely bright and sonorous picture «Mellow autumn» (1895, in the same place last years lives the master selects more and more simple motives, giving to them - only by means of colour, without any imaginations - similarity of an every day miracle. Now it is attracted especially with motives of evening («Summer evening», 1900, in the same place), twilight, a moonlight night. Varying a theme «haystacks in a moonlight night», writes small over a chimney panel with this plot for Anthony Pavlovicha Chekhov's house in Yalta (1900). Levitan's last, neoterminated picture («Lake. Russia», 1900, Russian museum) is - counter to deadly illness - hardly probable not the most major product of the artist. Has left also masterly samples of water colour and pastel painting.

Levitan and Chekhov

I.I.Levitan. «March»

I.I.Levitan. «March». 1895. Tretjakovsky gallery

Long-term (with 1885) friendship Isaakа of Levitan with Anthony Chekhov has generated variety of significant parallels in their creativity.

Separate lines of the person of the painter appear in Chekhovian «Fidget» (where Levitan's novel with the artist is reflected With. P.Kuvshinnikovoj), «Seagull» (where act Треплева, shot a seagull, reproduces Levitan-hunter's similar whim). The artist writes to the friend about its play «Seagull» (in 1899): «From it blows as that grief as which blows from a life when you peer at it», - and in these words their general liriko-mystical feeling of the nature is expressed.

Supervising with 1898 landscape class of the Moscow school of painting, sculpturing and architecture, has proved and as the remarkable teacher. In the Reach Levitan's House-museum is opened.

Isaak Levitan has died on July, 22nd (on August, 4th) 1900, in Moscow (M.N.Sokolov)

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