The life of Ivan Shishkin
There are many great Russian artists but few are as popular and as revered as Ivan Shishkin. Born in the Russian Empire on 25 January, 1832, the future artist studied in the Kazan gymnasium and was educated as a painter in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Because of his great promise as an artist, Ivan Shishkin was awarded several Imperial scholarships that allowed him to study painting in Europe. He quickly became a member of the Imperial Academy in St. Petersburg and later taught landscape painting classes in other institutions.
Ivan Shishkin painting career
Like many great artists, Ivan Shishkin began practicing his craft at a very young age. During his life and teaching work in St. Petersburg, the artist took frequent trips to the countryside for inspiration and material for his landscape paintings. His favorite places to take in the beauty of the Russian countryside were woods and fields around his vacation home in Vyra, a village just south of St. Petersburg, and Yelabuga, a town in present-day Tatarstan where the artist was born and raised. During his career, Shishkin painted thousands of incredibly realistic trees. For this reason, he is often called The Forest Tsar or The Lonely Oak. However, Shishkin’s paintings are not the only legacy we have to remember the artist by. In fact, Ivan Shishkin is the only Russian artist to have a planet named after him - a small planet 3558 was named after the artist in 1978.
Peredvizhniki movement in Russian art
Art was not the only thing on Shishkin’s mind. He was a true patriot of his country and a champion of its people. This led to him becoming one of the founders of the Peredvizhniki movement in art. Inspired by the emancipation of the serfs in the Russian Empire in 1861, the movement united realism artists who wanted to combine the beauty of Russia and the suffering of its people in their works. Shishkin didn’t use his works to call for radical changes or inspire religious debate. Instead, he focused on showing Russian nature and landscapes as something that every person regardless of their social standing can and should enjoy.