Studied in Moscow, apparently, at the Armory, under the guidance of Dutch Schonebeck in the engraving workshop. In 1711 transferred to St. Petersburg, studied at the Johann Tannauer, German artist, one of the first accepted the invitation of Peter the great to move to St. Petersburg to teach perspective painting of Russian artists. In 1716-1720 on your state pension, together with his brother Roman sent among twenty people, to study in Italy, in Venice and Florence. He studied with such masters as Tommaso Redi and I. G. Danhauer. After his return became court painter. In 1741, after the death of Anna Ioannovna, was given permission to return to Petersburg. Went in 1742 and died on the way.
His father, Nikita Dementievich, was a priest in Moscow at the Church of St. Demetrius, at the Tver gate in the White city. Original N. were identified singers in the Patriarchal choir, and then moved in among the best singers in the Patriarchal choir in the Royal marching choir, where he was entrusted with the training of Junior choristers. Differing curiosity N. learned "accounts of wisdom", began to understand the Latin and, moreover, addicted to painting. Where he received his first knowledge of painting, do not know exactly, but you have to think that being well received as chorister in the Kremlin's chamber, he had the opportunity to see samples of art by the Dutch painter Cornelius Bryan (which in 1703, he painted portraits of Tsar Ivan Alekseevich and Tsaritsa Praskovia Fyodorovna). Featuring a large natural sensitivity and abilities, N. captivated by art samples and began to study painting, first drawing with prints, and then portraying with nature's familiar faces. First, Nikitin was a teacher "figures", i.e., arithmetic and drawing at the Moscow artillery school and then was employed at the Armory. Having, because of this, the opportunity to be the eye of the Emperor, N. soon he became known to Peter the Great and in their artistic experiments. Noticing his talent, Emperor Peter I ordered invited to the Russian service of the painter G. Tannauer, arrived in St. Petersburg after the Prut campaign, to lead the classes Nikitin, and this guidance had a great impact on the development of talent singing artist. Seeing how brilliant successes Nikitin, Peter I decided to send it in 1716, together with his younger brother, Roman, Fedor Cherkasov, Mikhail Zakharov and Andrei Matveev, to improve abroad, and both brothers Nikitin was sent first to Italy. Already at that time Peter was proud of his homegrown portrait painter. Met in the way Nikitina, going along with the Russian Ambassador to Italy, P. I. by Beklemishevi, to the destination, Peter 19 APR 1716, wrote to his wife from Ikastola in Berlin: "Katerinushka, my friend, Hello! I got to meet Beklemishev and Ivan the painter. And how they will come to you, ask the king to ordered his person to him to write, and other I want, and especially the matchmaker, in order to know that there are people from our good masters." Arriving at Beklemishevi in Venice, N. had the opportunity some time to visit the Venice Academy of fine arts and drawing there from nature. In Florence Beklemishev asked the Keeper of Tuscany to take Nikitina, and other artists under his special protection, and entrust them to an experienced Professor: Duke elected Professor of the Florentine Academy of fine arts Tommaso Redi, under whose direction N. been doing for three years, until August 1712, During his stay in Italy N. was considered the eldest among the friends, was called by the master and received, according to the decree of the Emperor, from the 6th of January 1716, 100 RUB. per year, more than comrades, namely 300 p. Nikitin Returned from foreign parts in 1720, after finishing the academic course and brought from the Duke of Tuscany letter to the Emperor Peter the Great, in which the Duke gave rave reviews about his successes. If in 1816, Peter was much lauded before the Prussian king art Nikitin, considering him "good master" before his trip abroad, on my return from Italy N. had to have another great skill. According to J. J. Staehelin, "from this Russian student has been skilled historical painter, whose works still remain in different Russian churches in St. Petersburg". However, his specialty was painting the portrait: in all the accounts stored in the Cabinet of Peter the Great, referred to as "the court of His Majesty personnic a master", from which we can conclude that back in 1720 in Russia N. was made court painter. Upon arrival in St. Petersburg, Nikitin received from the Emperor the gift of a home for her housing at the Sink, near the Winter Palace, but this house did his property not earlier than 1724 In 1721, when Peter and Catherine returned from Riga and Reval to St. Petersburg, they had often taken trips to the island of Kotlin. One of these trips was to summon to Their Majesties Nikitin with canvas, paints and all supplies for painting. Required Nikitin Cabinet Secretary Makarov chastised him to bring and brother, probably to represent his Sovereign. 3 September 1721 in Jurnale of Peter the Great observed that "on the Kotlin island before Liturgie, wrote to His Majesty's person, the painter Ivan Nikitin". It is also likely that he executed the portraits of the Empress Catherine, the Grand Duke Peter, Grand Duchess Anna, Elizabeth and Natalia Petrovna, Duke of Holstein and other persons. Among these persons Nikitin mentions a biographer of Prince Menshikov and his family, the General-Admiral Apraksin with his relatives, the princes Golitsyn and Dolgoruky and the former the most ardent patrons of I. Nikitin and Confessor of the Empress Catherine and Zach Director M. D. Abram. The last set Nikitina is very high and has long supported him. Having designed a device in St. Petersburg a special art school, he designed to take her to Nikitin important role of Professor of painting even when the latter was in Florence. Although the project was recognized by Peter premature, but the defender has not left his thoughts and returned to her the Empress Catherine, proposing N. Directors of the Academy of Arts. The Empress, who loved fine art and knowing personally N. even with 1716, when he appeared to her in Berlin on the instructions of Peter the Great, put it in relation to all benefits on a par with German Cannavaro. Nikitin, in all probability, belongs the portrait of Catherine was painted at the year of her reign, where she is depicted in a crimson rubrene. Court painter Nikitin was to 1732. During this time he painted a number of portraits and, among other things, portraits of the Emperor Peter the Great (on his deathbed), located in the Imp. Academy of Arts, the same — in a coffin in the Archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Moscow; the State Chancellor count G. I. Golovkin, the graph Gr. Pet. Chernyshev, A. I. Ushakov, Baron S. G. Strogonova, P. L. Polubotok and other Higher orders during service N. at the court of Catherine I in 1726 gave him an extensive practice. Catherine favored Nikitin and mercy it resulted, among other things, personal choice for his bride, Marya Fedorovna, Mamans. In 1727 N. married and moved with his wife to Moscow. The marriage however was unhappy. The wife soon fell out of love with N. and even cheated on him. Family misfortunes did N. even more focused, closed and dark. In addition, in the religious soul of N. these failures strengthened the incipient cooling it to the society. He saw in it the domination of foreign customs and with even greater hostility began to treat everything that was not Russian, and closely approached a small circle of persons who share with him a dislike for foreigners. All the disasters of Russia, he explained that foreigners and little Russian ecclesiastics, like Feofan Prokopovich, infected with heresy, making corruption and mischief in the minds of the Russian people. Views of this kind were quite common at the time and in the spirit of their cousin Nikitin, defrocked Osip Reshilov, in monasticism Josiah, was "the Life of Theophanes", full of tempting details and charges him with heresy. Required to answer, Reshilov slandered brothers Ivan and Herodion Nikitin in reading and distribution of notebooks libelous content. Brothers of the 8th August 1732, was taken to the Secret Chancellery, and then sent to the Peter and Paul fortress. All charge, N., shows a four-year process it in a Secret Office, was founded rather on negative than on positive evidence, but nevertheless he incurred a more severe punishment than many others, drawn to this case, and of a wealthy man turned into a beggar. Process H. the Secret Chancellery was completed in December of 1736, but in a report to be approved by the Anna Ioannovna only 5 November 1737 Ivan Nikitin was recognized as a state criminal, sentenced "to be beaten with whips and sent to Siberia for life and forever for the guard." At the same time, probably thanks to the intercession of Ushakov, the Nikitin house and belongings was left to him "to feed". Brought on carts to Tobolsk, Nikitin was left there on your own dependent. His biographer, P. N. Petrov believes that Nikitin is in Siberia, where portrait painting was at a premium, could not sit without work, and expresses, among other things, the assumption that in the merchant houses and many churches of Tobolsk it is possible to find paintings by this artist. He also P. N. Petrov ascribes the image of Ermak, noting it is characteristic for Nikitin "thick with a reddish color, deep shadows," the fantastic attire and the correct position of the shadows that distinguish Western European a letter from the North and East, as well as portraits of Makarova, Cherkasova, Rumyantsev, matching them in color.
Made in 1741, captain-Lieutenant by Syreishikov the inventory of things kept in Moscow house of Ivan Nikitin, shows that at that time existed following the works of the beloved Peter artist: two paintings, painted on canvas and depicting "the Crucifixion of the Lord", the plot for which N. taken more than once, shortly before his arrest, under the influence of obruchevsky circumstances of life; 12 Grand tapestries in a dual format with ornaments green colours, "yellow earth, petal"; carefully written on the canvas, "the Crucifixion", with a height of 1'arche. 12 weirs. and a width of 1'arche. 3½ inches, and the sides of his seven icons. In addition, the rooms Nikitin was painted in oil-paint portraits of Peter I, Catherine I, tsarina Anna Ivanovna, and two are unknown to the compiler of the inventory of the individuals, as well as 14 other oil paintings. Other objects deserve special attention a collection of coins, and a library. In General, the inventory shows that Nikitin lived as best they could to live and enough educated people of that time.
In Siberia Nikitin remained until the spring of 1741 Princess Anna Leopoldovna, returning from Siberia many sharpened, 29 Dec 1740 pointed out to imagine about it, and April 22, 1741, ordered the release of Nikitin. The decree was immediately sent to Tobolsk, but reached this city until the end of June. Nikitin was released, was to return from exile on their own account. On the way home he died.