Nikolaevich Samokhvalov

Russia • 1894−1971

Biography and information

Born on August 21, 1894 in the city of Bezhetsk, Tver province.

In 1923 he graduated from the Petrograd VKhUTEMAS, a student of Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin.

He studied with Vasily Belyaev, Hugo Zaleman, Vasily Shukhaev.

Participant of exhibitions since 1914.

Member of the associations of artists "CIRCLE" (1926-1929), "OCTOBER" (1930-1932).

Member of LSSH since 1932.

He was engaged in posters, sculptures, monumental and easel painting, arts and crafts, illustrated books.

The leading theme of creativity is the image of modern youth. The author of the painting "Girl in a T-shirt" (1932).

Laureate of Grand Prix diplomas and gold medals at international Paris exhibitions (1925, 1937). Honored Artist of the RSFSR (1967).

Personal exhibitions in Leningrad (1963), Petersburg (1994) and Tver (1994).

“I am an artist living an excited emotional life, modernity” - this is how A. N. Samokhvalov formulated his creative credo in the biographical novel “My Creative Way”. And indeed, the world of the contemporary artist, the construction of a new life, a new way of life, world outlook have fascinated an artist striving to reflect his impressions.


Samokhvalov was born on Tver land, where he spent his childhood. He was addicted to drawing early, and under the guidance of a school teacher he wrote sketches in nature.

In 1914 he entered the architectural department of the Higher Art School at the Academy of Arts. Comprehending the wisdom of the profession of an architect, he became interested in painting and color.

In 1918 he was forced to interrupt classes and left for his native Bezhetsk, where he participated in the design of mass festivities dedicated to the October Revolution.


After returning to Petrograd in 1919, Samokhvalov entered the painting department of the State Agricultural Art Museum and the workshop of K. S. Petrov-Vodkin. The spatial system for constructing the picture, developed by Petrov-Vodkin, the search for the correlation of color and form captivated the aspiring artist. The expression of his vision, sensation of the dynamics of time has become an indispensable companion of Samokhvalov.


The trip to Samarkand in 1921 and the expedition of the Institute of the History of Material Culture, which included K. S. Petrov-Vodkin, the emerging artist experienced as a turning point in his worldview and work. Indeed, in the works of the Samarkand period, as well as those executed upon return, one can already see the hand of an adult, independently thinking person, a fully developed artist ("Shahi-Zinda", "At the source. Samarkand", "Seller of water", "Insomnia", " Afrasiab ", all 1921).


Samokhvalov was equally impressed by his participation in the restoration of St. George's Cathedral in Staraya Ladoga (1926), where he was captured by ancient Russian fresco painting. Accepting the construction of a socialist society almost unconditionally, Samokhvalov is actively involved in the artistic life of the state, bringing his creative tasks, discoveries and revelations as close as possible to the "thick folk". It was he who owned the software work of Soviet art of the 1930s. - "Girl in a T-shirt" (1932). This work embodied the artist’s desire to create the image of a contemporary formed by the new society “in labor, in feat”, “in triumph of achievement”, expressed an understanding of his pictorial tasks, realized a fresco-monumental sense of reality. One can admire the artist’s ability not to flatter either the era or nature, the ability to identify the main thing that allowed contemporaries to admire the created image of the “spirit of the time”, and we, the descendants, to see this cold, prickly look not of a girl, but of a builder of a socialist society, hard and purposeful alien to everything human.


The image of a contemporary - the young creator of a healthy life - was unusually fully expressed in the subjects of the 1930s art related to physical education, this new cult of Soviet society. And for Samokhvalov, "physical education was the joy of being, that joy that accumulated the potential to overcome difficulties in the struggle to build a new life ...". It is enough to recall his contractual painting "The Militarized Komsomol" (1932-33), a series of works, graphic and pictorial: "Athletes" (1935), "Metrostroyevka" (1934-37).


In 1937, the work “Girl in a T-shirt” was included in the exposition of the International Exhibition in Paris and was awarded a gold medal. Then, for the panel "Soviet Physical Education", made for the Soviet pavilion, and for illustration to the "History of a City" by M. E. Saltykov-Shchedrin, the artist receives two Grand Prix of the International Exhibition. "The history of one city" was greeted by compatriots almost enthusiastically.


A rare book of the 1930s. received unconditional recognition and received a review with the title: "A masterpiece of printing art" (the newspaper "Evening Leningrad"). Samokhvalov has been engaged in books and book graphics since 1925, collaborating with the Leningrad publishing house "Rainbow" and Detgiz. More than one generation of Soviet readers remembers the heroes of his picture books “Night Fears” (1927, text by N. N. Aseev), “Diving Base” (1928), “Vengeful Khujar” (1929).


Since the mid-1930s the artist is invited to work in theaters. He arranges the performances "Bride" by A. N. Ostrovsky (director O. A. Morshikhin, 1935, GBDT, Leningrad), "Hot Heart" by A. N. Ostrovsky and "Glass of Water" by E. Skrib (both 1943, Academic Drama Theater named after A.S. Pushkin, Leningrad) and others.


In the 1950s Samokhvalov creates a series of portraits of his wife, paints a picture “At the Philharmonic” (1956), landscapes, among which the small canvas “Kern Alley”, executed in an exquisite blue-green palette, penetrated by poetic moonlight, is particularly lyrical.


Differently criticized, contemporaries evaluated and perceived the artist's work. Although for admirers of his talent, and for those who did not accept his work, he was and remains a singer of the socialist "paradise." During his life, officially recognized, who managed to find and express what he wanted, recognizable, Samokhvalov possessed his own style, saw beauty in modern times.