Inspirational Artists: The Russians - Nicholai Fechin

March 30, 2017

If you ask me who i would love to be able to paint like, it wouldn't be a recognised master (well maybe a few) but it certainly would be Nicholai Fechin. The great Russian painter was able to capture movement, light, texture and in particular the character of the sitter. He appears to focus in on one aspect and the rest is background albeit brilliant and his use of colour and light is some of the best you will see.

 

Fechin was born in 1881 in Kazan, Russia and as a child, he almost died from meningitis. His father was a woodcarver and gilder, and the boy learned carving from him. By age eleven, the boy was drawing designs for his father to use in the construction of altars and by the age of 13, he enrolled in the newly established Kazan Art School, a branch of the Imperial Academy of Arts in the capital of St. Petersburg.

 

Based on his work, Fechin was admitted for further study to the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint-Petersburg, where he studied with Ilya Repin and Filipp Malyavin. In 1909 Fechin graduated with the highest grade possible, and his final competitive canvas won him the Prix de Rome. The traveling scholarship allowed him to visit and study in the artistic capitals of Europe in 1909. The following year he won a gold medal at the annual International Exhibition in Munich. Fechin was invited to show his work at an international exhibition at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1910. He began to sell his work in the United States. 

The social disruption and widespread deprivation after the Russian Revolution made life difficult, and Fechin's parents died of typhoid fever.During the Russian famine of 1921 he was rescued by the American Relief Administration and in 1923 Fechin and his family emigrated to the United States, where they settled in New York. He was already well known in the States from canvases at American and European exhibitions, as well as sales and started teaching at the New York Academy of Art. 

 

While in New York, Fechin developed tuberculosis and doctors recommended a drier climate of  New Mexico. The Taos mountains reminded him of Siberia and he soon was painting, particularly the Native Americans. Fechin became a naturalized American citizen while living there.

 

In 1955 he died in Santa Monica and was buried in Santa Monica but in 1976, his daughter Eya, took his remains back to Russia for reinterment in Kazan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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