Vasilyevich Nesterov

Russia • 1862−1942
Mikhail Vasilyevich Nesterov (May 6 (19), 1862, Ufa - October 18, 1942, Moscow) - Russian and Soviet artist, icon painter, portrait painter, participant in the association of traveling exhibitions and the World of Art. Academic painting (1898). Honored Artist of the RSFSR (1942). Winner of the Stalin Prize of the first degree (1941). According to legend, at the end of his life Nesterov refused to paint a portrait of Stalin, although the leader offered him this work twice. Nesterov replied: "I like your face less and less."

Features of the artist Mikhail Nesterov: The artist tried to avoid the image of violent passions. He said that he was most interesting "A quiet landscape and a man living the inner life".

Famous paintings by Mikhail Nesterov: "For the love potion", "Hermit", "The vision of the youth Bartholomew", "Two frets", "Chanterelle", "Holy Russia", “In Russia. Soul of the people ", "Dmitri Tsarevich Killed", "Philosophers", “Portrait of Academician Pavlov”.

If it were necessary to describe the creative method of Nesterov in one word, then this would be the word “perseverance”. He created his paintings for a long time, rewriting many times even a seemingly insignificant detail. Often he left work and started working on it again, but on a new canvas. When he wrote "The vision of the youth Bartholomew", he even tore the first version of the picture. True, by accident. He fell to the canvas, when for the hundredth time he rewrote the face of a lad. His work was rarely satisfied. Many of the paintings destroyed. He did not like his murals of the church in Abastumani, although he gave this work several years of his life and did it carefully and jealously, checking every stroke. At the same time was not devoid of vanity. He admitted that he likes to come to the Tretyakov Gallery to see the reaction of the public to his paintings. And very happy if visitors stopped in front of his paintings. "So there is something in them!" - spoke to a friend, artist Turygin.


Despite the fact that the young Nesterov's talent for drawing appeared and was noticed by teachers when he was just 10 years old, he walked a long time and, again, stubbornly to the title “Artist”. Three years he studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1877-1880). Then he spent three more years at the Academy of Fine Arts in Petersburg (1880-1883) and again for three years at the Moscow School, from which he began (1883-1886).

Of course, all this time he not only pored over sketches and patterns. I managed to fall in love, marry, become a father and lose my beloved spouse Masha(she died immediately after giving birth). At the same time, he instructed his future wife: "You will become the wife of the artist - it's hard work". And in this “admonition” there was no coquetry: for Nesterov, the chosen path foreshadowed, first of all, hard work and continuous improvement. And this requires dedication not only for the artist himself, but also for his environment.

Nesterov considered as his teacher the pores of comprehending the basics Vasily Perov. In imitation he wrote several pictures: "Snowballs"and "House of Cards". When I gave my beloved Masha, who later became his wife, etudes, then the “student of Perov” was surely signed. At the same time, Nesterov always tried to overcome the influence on his work - he was looking for his own way and his place in art. Later, when painting the Vladimir Cathedral in Kiev, he will also be wary of excessive influence on himself. Vasnetsovwhich was central to the work on the frescoes of the temple.


Mikhail Nesterov was Orthodox. And in a special way of Russia believed passionately. Although he highly appreciated the work of his teacher Perov, the picture, like Perovskaya "Rural Procession at Easter"In the works of Nesterov it is impossible to imagine. Yes, with the priests "on merry" he had repeatedly come across Once, a pretty drunk pop served the requiem ordered by the artist at the grave of his first wife. What he saw outraged Nesterov, but there was no reason for a picture of incriminating content. The artist believed that his work also has an educational function: it is better to show the ideal to which you want to strive, rather than fix the flaws. Therefore, after such an incident, he wrote his “The Hermit” (1888-1889), where he showed the quiet and humble face of a true Orthodox monk.

Faith was the main motive for Nesterov when painting temples. In addition to the Vladimir Cathedral in Kiev, the artist painted the Alexander Nevsky Church in Abastumani (1899-1904), the Martha-Mariinsky Church in Moscow (1908-1911) and painted the Cathedral in Sumy (1913-1914). It is noteworthy that he was asked to work on projects that could bring much more fame and money. And he asked not someone, but the members of the royal family. So, Nesterov was invited to paint one of the Russian churches abroad and promised a good fee. He refused: this work did not seem interesting to him.
Paintings of churches once again showed the perfectionism of the artist. He always critically assessed his work in this area. “Maybe my images really ate me, well, maybe my vocation is not an image, but pictures — living people, living nature, passed through my feeling, in a word,“ poetized realism ”- wrote the artist in his diary.

And when Sergey Dyagilev gave a special exhibition with Nesterov’s sketches for painting the church in Abastumani and even published an entire magazine, dedicated to these paintings, Mikhail Vasilyevich was by no means flattered. And to his friend Alexander Turygin he noticed with bitterness: “It would be better to forget about these sketches at all”.

In this case, the church theme in his work, he developed constantly. Under the influence of Melnikov-Pechersk’s novels devoted to the Volga Old Believers, Nesterov decided, in his words, “to paint a novel, a novel in pictures ...”. The artist created three of the five conceived "chapters" of the novel: paintings "On the mountains"(1896), "Great tonsure"(1897–1898) and "On the Volga"(1905).

Nesterov dedicated several paintings to St. Sergius of Radonezh: "Visions to the youth Bartholomew" (1889-1890) and "Youth of Sergius"(1893).

But the worldview of Nesterov is most fully reflected in his paintings “Holy Russia” (1901-1906) and “In Russia. The Soul of the People ”(1915-1916).

The zeal and special creative method of Mikhail Vasilyevich Nesterov were appreciated. In 1910 he was elected a full member of the Academy of Arts in Moscow.


“Two passions dominated me all my life: passion, love and passion for art. If it were not for these passions, I would be the most ordinary man, perhaps a harmful tyrant, drunkard, loser ”, - Nesterov wrote about himself in the book of memories "Old days".

The artist was officially officially married twice: in 1885, he married Maria Martynovskaya. Her beloved wife died suddenly after giving birth in 1886. Nesterov was so inconsolable that for a long time he portrayed the sweet image of his wife in his works. Its three options "Princess"(1887) and "Bride of Christ"(1887) painted his beloved Masha. The portrait of his wife on his deathbed, he also wrote, but later destroyed the picture, because he was unbearable to look at her.

The second marriage, Mikhail Vasilyevich concluded in 1902. With the future wife - 22 years old Ekaterina Vasilyeva, 40-year-old Nesterov met in May, and in July they were married.

At the same time, for the sake of the young Katya, Mikhail Nesterov left his common-law wife, Julia Urusman, from whom the artist had a daughter, Vera, and two sons. Rupture Nesterov considered a terrible sin and to the end of life tormented them. Daughters financially helped.

He had a "fleeting love." Traveling on the ship, he met an opera singer, whose name he chose not to name. Their relationship was broken at the initiative of the beloved. She said that she could not become a friend of the artist: such a burden was beyond her capacity. Difficult worrying parting, Nesterov wrote "Great tonsure."

The artist had seven children: Olga's daughter from her first marriage; daughter Vera and sons from the civil wife of Julia Urusman; two daughters and a son - Natalia, Anastasia and Alexey - from the second marriage.


Two revolutions that the artist survived did not meet with his support. Such changes were not at all combined with the conservative worldview of Nesterov. He did not leave Russia because he did not see himself far from his native land. At the same time he had to completely change roles. He no longer wrote symbolic canvases showing how Russia moves towards Christ. But he could not but work: he completely switched to portraits. His only portrait, still associated with his beloved church theme - "Archbishop"(1917). And in writing Metropolitan Mikhail Vasilyevich demonstrated his gift of the painter, from whom he often disowned, saying: “I am not a painter. I am an artist".

Of course, Mikhail Vasilyevich painted portraits before. But only in the post-revolutionary period, they occupied him entirely.

The role of the portrait painter so captured Nesterov that he constantly demanded new faces to write. Approached with requests to the sculptor Anna Golubkina. But she strongly opposed: "What do you! Write me! Yes, I'll go crazy! Where am I with my mug on the portrait! I'm crazy". But, in fairness, it is worth noting that most models agreed to pose.

The most famous portraits of Nesterov of the post-revolutionary period: "The girl at the pond"(1923), "Portrait of the Coryns"(1930), "Sick girl"(1928), "Portrait of Academician Pavlov" (1930), "Portrait of a biologist Severtsov"(1934), "Portrait of a surgeon Yudin"(1935).

In the new period of the history of Russia, Mikhail Nesterov was even arrested. In 1938, he spent two weeks in the Butyrskaya prison, because his son-in-law, the lawyer Schroeter, was accused of espionage.

Mikhail Vasilyevich watched as the new government with an iron boot of arrests passes through his family: his daughter from his first marriage, Olga, was arrested and sent to camps. Then they shot the husband's daughter from the second marriage - Natalia.

Nesterov went to work, not having the strength to fix something in this new world order.

The artist died of a stroke at the age of 81 in Moscow at the Botkin Hospital on October 18, 1942. Until the last day I was holding a palette and a brush in my hands - I wrote. The artist was buried at the Novodevichy cemetery in Moscow.

Author: Elena Siroid
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