Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin (25/1/1832 -
20/3/1898) was a Russian landscape painter closely associated with the
Shishkin was born in Yelabuga of Vyatka Governorate (today Republic of
Tatarstan), and graduated from the Kazan gymnasium. Then he studied at the Moscow
School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture for four years. After that, he
attended the Saint Petersburg Imperial Academy of Arts from 1856 to 1860, and
graduated with the highest honours and a gold medal. He received the imperial
scholarship for his further studies in Europe.
Five years later Shishkin became a member of the Imperial Academy in St.
Petersburg and was professor of painting from 1873 to 1898. At the same time,
Shishkin headed the landscape painting class at the Highest Art School in St.
One of his first masterpieces Noon in the Neighbourhood of Moscow (1869) critics
called “song of joy”. He always preferred to draw daytime scenes, full of sunlight
and life. Pine Forest in Viatka Province (1872), Rye (1878), Path in a Forest
(1880), Oaks (1887), Coniferous Forest. Sunny Day. (1895). His scrupulous
reproduction of nature stood in sharp contrast to the academic canons of landscape
painting. For his loving approach to detail some critics called his works colored
pictures, which lack of life. But despite such attention to details Shishkin’s
paintings do not fall apart, but give full and finished impression.
For some time, Shishkin lived and worked in Switzerland and Germany on
scholarship from the St. Petersburg Imperial Academy of Arts. On his return to
Saint Petersburg, he became a member of the Circle of the Itinerants and of the
Society of Russian Watercolorists. He also took part in exhibitions at the Academy
of Arts, the All Russian Exhibition in Moscow (1882), the Nizhniy Novgorod (1896),
and the World Fairs (Paris, 1867 and 1878, and Vienna, 1873). Shishkin's painting
method was based on analytical studies of nature. He became famous for his forest
landscapes, and was also an outstanding draftsman and a printmaker.
Ivan Shishkin owned a dacha in Vyra, south of St. Petersburg. There he painted
some of his finest landscapes. His works are notable for poetic depiction of
seasons in the woods, wild nature, animals and birds. In 1891, he was appointed
professor - director of the landscape class in the Academy’s Advanced Art School.
In 1898, he completed his painting The Pine Grove and died on 20th March in St.
Petersburg, while working on his new painting.
A minor planet 3558 Shishkin, discovered by Soviet astronomer Lyudmila
Zhuravlyova in 1978 is named after him.
The works of this outstanding artist enjoy vast popularity in Russia; the best
of them have become the classics of Russian landscape painting. During 40 years of
his artistic activity Ivan Shishkin produced hundreds of paintings, thousands of
studies and drawings and a large number of engravings. For contemporaries,
Shishkin’s personality embodied Russian nature itself; they called him “forest
tzar”, “old pine tree”, and “lonely oak”.
Among the Russian landscape painters Shishkin was the staunchest and most
consistent exponent of the materialistic aesthetics – to depict nature in all its
pure, unadorned beauty. His role in Russian art did not lose its significance even
in the years, which saw the appearance of splendid landscapes by Isaac Levitan,
Valentin Serov and Constantin Korovin. Despite the fact that he espoused different
aesthetic principles and advocated a different artistic system, Shishkin enjoyed an
indisputable authority among young Russian painters of the late 19th century. The
new generation did not fail to acknowledge him as a thoughtful and masterful
portrayer of Russian nature.
Notable works: Morning in a Pine Forest, A Rye Field, Rain in an Oak Forest,
Mast Pine Forest in Vyatka Province, Oak grove, A Rye Field.
Ivan Shishkin corner at Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow