Mikhail Vasilievich Nesterov

The work of Mikhail Nesterov has previously featured on this site. But he warrants further attention for his attention to the solitary in the Russian Orthodox spiritual life.
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“Russian artist Mikhail Vasilievich Nesterov (31 May 1862 – 18 October 1942) was born in Ufa into a merchant family. He received higher artistic education at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1877-1881 and 1884-1886), where his teachers were V.G. Perov, A.K. Savrasov, I.M. Pryanishnikov and the Academy of Arts (1881-1884), where he studied at P.P. Chistyakov. Mikhail Nesterov lived mainly in Moscow, and visited Western Europe, including France and Italy. He worked in Moscow (Abramtzevo Trinity-Sergius Lavra and their surroundings). Was a member of the “Association of the Wanderers.””
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“Mikhail Vasilyevich Nesterov (Russian: Михаи́л Васи́льевич Не́стеров; 31 May [O.S. 19 May] 1862 – 18 October 1942) was a major representative of religious Symbolism in Russian art. He was a pupil of Pavel Tchistyakov at the Imperial Academy of Arts, but later allied himself with the group of artists known as the Peredvizhniki. His canvas “The Vision of the Youth Bartholomew” (1890–91), depicting the conversion of medieval Russian saint Sergii Radonezhsky, is often considered to be the earliest example of the Russian Symbolist style.
From 1890 to 1910, Nesterov lived in Kiev and St Petersburg, working on frescoes in St. Vladimir’s Cathedral and the Church on Spilt Blood, respectively. After 1910, he spent the remainder of his life in Moscow, working in the Marfo-Mariinsky Convent. As a devout Orthodox Christian, he did not accept the Bolshevik Revolution but remained in Russia until his death, painting the portraits of Ivan Ilyin, Ivan Pavlov, Ksenia Derzhinskaia, Otto Schmidt, and Vera Mukhina, among others.”
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“Like many other famous Russian artists, Nesterov was born in the 19th century, on the 31st of May in the city of Ufa. In 1874, his parents sent him to Moscow to study at a technical college. There his skills as an artist caught the eye of K. Trutovsky, an artist of some renown at the time. Nesterov, at the recommendation of Trutovsky, was sent to the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture and later in 1881, the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg.
From 1890 on to about 1910, Nesterov lived in Kiev and St. Petersburg where his talents led him to paint frescoes on local churches including the Cathedral of St. Vladimir. Prior to his work as a church painter, Nesterov had yet to find a suitable style of art that interested him. But his work as a painter convinced him to begin using Christian themes in his art. This interest in religious themes would eventually define Nesterov’s style as an artist.
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But religion alone did not inspire him, the death of his wife Olga, whom he had married a year earlier in 1885, had given Nesterov a reason to add emotion into his works. From then on the artist spent the remainder of his life in Moscow, occasionally taking trips to Italy or France or with the Peredvizhniki, a renowned society of artists that he was a member of.
The October Revolution had brought great setbacks to his work. Being a devout Christian, Nesterov did not support the October Revolution. Because of the newly-established communist government, which was largely atheistic, Nesterov was not able to continue painting works containing Christian themes in fear of the consequences that would follow. During this time until his death on October 18, 1942, Nesterov made few works, with most of them being portraits of various individuals.
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But among such artists as Repin, Vasnetsov and Vereschagin, one cannot deny that Nesterov’s art, where his visualization of folklore and poetry through traditional Russian/Christian imagery has a special place among the Russian art world, undoubtable making him one of the best examples the Russian symbolist idea had to offer.”
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