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  Ivan Shishkin

  Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin was born in a provincial city of Yelabuga. His father, a merchant of modest income, trying to impart the interest for history to his son, took him to the archeological dig of Bulgarian realm on the Volga, where Ivan Vasiliyevich helped the Moscow professor K.I. Novostruyev. In 1844 the father sent the boy to the Kazan gymnasium, where a would-be artist found several friends, and together with them could 'draw and argue ' about art.
  In 1852 Shishkin enters the Moscow school of painting and sculpture, where he got good training under the leadership of A.N. Mokritsky. In 1856-1860 he continued his studies in the St. Petersburg Academy of Art, in the S.M. Vorobiyev's class. The young artist's progress was marked with gold and silver medals.
  Shishkin went abroad only in 1862. Berlin and Dresden didn't produce particular impression on him: apart from anything else, nostalgia affected him ('Why am I not in Russia, which I love so much?'). He became quickened only in Prague, where he 'met many Czechs; they are open people and speak Russian willingly '. He admired the drawings of 'Slavonic types' by a prominent Czech realist of 1860s - Josef Manes. In 1863 in Zurich Shishkin visited a painter and engraver R. Koller's studio, where he learnt some the technique of etching.
  The mountain scenery of Switzerland left the artist indifferent; soon, together with the graduates of the Academy L.L. Kamenev and Ye.E. Dukker, Shishkin started working in the Teutonburg forest near Dusseldorff. Pen and ink drawings attracted attention of numerous connoisseurs of art. The painter recollected: 'Wherever you go, everybody point at you - there, that Russian is walking; even in the shop people ask if I were that Russian Shishkin, who can draw so fine. '
  In 1865 Shishkin came back to Russia and received the title of the Academician for the canvas 'The view in the outskirts of Dusseldorff'. Shishkin quickly entered the circle of interests of native artistic life; he was attending Thursdays of the Artists' Artel (co-operative). 'I.I. Shishkin's voice sounded louder then others - recollecting Repin. He made a number of pen and ink drawings in those evenings. The public would gasp behind his back, when he started to crumple and blot out his splendid drawing with his huge hands of a drayman and gnarled fingers, and, as if it were some kind of magic, the drawing was becoming more and more refined and brilliant despite such a rough treatment'.
  Shishkin's works 'Wood cutting' (1867), ' At sunset' (1869), 'Noon in the outskirts of Moscow'(1869), where the peculiarities of national landscape were being revealed, correlated to the trend, developed subsequently by the Association of movable art exhibitions. In 1870, together with I.N. Kramskoi, V.G. Perov, G.G. Myasoyedov, A.K. Savrasov, N.N. Ge and others, he became a member-founder of the Association.
  In 1873 Shishkin was given the title of professor for the canvas 'In the thicket', which he had presented at the Second exhibition of the Association. Spatially organizing a composition (somewhere in the depth, among stunted trees a slight sun gleam is seen) from the shaded foreground, he enables a spectator to feel dampness of air, humidity of mosses and wind fallen trees, to be filled with this atmosphere, as if leaving the spectator alone with an oppressive backwoods. And, on the contrary, his famous picture "Rye" (1878) is full of sun, light, air, space. The picture is epic: it synthesizes the features of national character of Russian nature, that native, significant, that Shishkin saw in it: " Vast expanses. Cropland, rye. The grace of God. Russian riches... "
  Despite the success in the field of landscape paintings, close friends advised Shishkin to pay attention to expressive means, particularly to depicting air and light. The life itself required it. It's enough to remember colour merits of the works of Repin and Surikov to understand it. That's why in Shishkin's canvases 'Misty morning'(1885) and 'Pine trees, slight by sun' (1886) attract not only by the linear composition, but rather by the harmony of chiaroscuro and colour. The same is true for the landscapes 'Oaks'(1887), 'Golden autumn' (1887) and others.
  Alongside with paintings, graphics had special place among Shishkin's works. He was the master of the art of drawing and engraving. His drawing underwent the same evolution as his painting. The drawings of 1880s, made by coal and chock, are much more picturesque, then those made by pen in 1860s.
  On March 8, 1898 the painter died.

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