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Mikhail Vasilyevich Nesterov
 Vasilyevich Nesterov
Russia 1862−1942
Biography and information
Mikhail Vasilievich Nesterov (6 (19) may 1862, Ufa — 18 October 1942, Moscow) — Russian and Soviet artist, painter, portraitist, a member of the Association of traveling exhibitions and the art World. Academician of painting (1898). Honored art worker of the RSFSR (1942). The winner of the Stalin prize, first degree (1941). According to legend, at the end of life Nesterov refused to write a portrait of Stalin, though the leader was twice offered him the job. Nesterov replied: "Your face seems less and less like".

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

Famous paintings of Mikhail Nesterov: "For a love potion", "The hermit", "Vision of young Bartholomew", "Two Lada", "Chanterelle", "Holy Russia", "In Russia. The soul of the people", "Tsarevich Dmitry murdered", "Philosophers", "Portrait of academician Pavlova".

If you had one word to describe Nesterov’s creative method, it would be the word "perseverance". His paintings he created for a long time, a lot of time rewriting even a seemingly insignificant detail. Often left work and started it again but on a new canvas. When I wrote "Vision of young Bartholomew", even broke up the first version of the painting. However, by accident. Fell to the canvas, when for the hundredth time he rewrote the face of the child. His work was rarely satisfied. Many of the paintings destroyed. Did not like his painting of the Church in Abastumani, although this work gave some years of life, and doing it carefully and jealously, verifying each stroke. It was not devoid of vanity. Admitted that he loves to come to the Tretyakov gallery to see public reaction to his paintings. And very happy, if the visitors stayed in front of his paintings. "It means there is something in them!" — said to my friend, the artist Turygino.


Despite the fact that a talent for drawing at a young Nesterov manifested and was noticed by teachers when he was barely 10 years old, to the rank of "Artist" it was a long and, again, persistently. Three years studied at the Moscow School of painting, sculpture and architecture (1877−1880). Then another three years spent at the Academy of arts in St. Petersburg (1880−1883), and again three years at the Moscow School, which started (1883−1886).

Of course, all this time, he not only pored over the sketches and drawing. Managed to fall in love, get married, become a father and losing his love wife Masha(she died just after birth). However, he future wife counseled: "You'd be the wife of an artist is hard work". And in this "admonition" was not coquetry, for Nesterov’s chosen path foreshadowed above all hard work and continuous improvement. This requires dedication not only to the artist but also for his entourage.

His teacher pores of comprehension of the basics of Nesterov believed Vasily Perov. In imitation of him wrote a few pictures: "Snowballs"and "house of cards". When he gave his beloved Mary, who later became his wife, etudes, it certainly was signed "the apprentice Perov". The Nesterov has always tried to overcome the impact on their creativity — looking for their way and their place in art. Later, painting of the Vladimir Cathedral in Kiev, he will also fear undue influence on yourself Vasnetsovthat was Central to the work on the frescoes of the temple.


Mikhail Nesterov was a Russian Orthodox. And in a special way Russia believed passionately. Although he highly appreciated the work of his teacher Perov, picture, like. "Rural religious Procession for Easter"in the work of Nesterov impossible to imagine. Yes, with the priests "fun" he had ever encountered. Once, pretty drunk pop was served as ordered by the funeral service at the grave of his first wife. What he saw angered Nesterov, but was not the reason for the pattern of incriminating content. The artist believed that his work has an educational function: it is better to show an ideal to which to strive than to fix weaknesses. So after this incident he wrote his "Hermit" (1888−1889), where he showed a quiet and humble in the face of this Orthodox monk.

Faith was the main motive for Nesterov in painting churches. In addition to the Vladimir Cathedral in Kiev, the artist painted the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Abastumani (1899−1904), Martha and Mary Church in Moscow (1908−1911) and was engaged in painting 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 asked not just anybody, but members of the Royal family. So, Nesterov was invited to paint one of the Russian Church abroad, and promised a good fee. He refused: he this work do not seem interesting.
Painting churches has shown renewed perfectionism of the artist. It is always critically evaluate your work in this area. "Maybe my image really me ate, well, maybe my calling is not the image, and the picture — real people, living nature, filtered through my sense of the word — "poetisized realism"— recorded artist in the diary.

And when Sergei Diaghilev staged a special exhibition with sketches Nesterov to paint the Church in Abastumani, and even published a magazine, these paintings are devoted to Mikhail Vasilyevich was not flattered. And his friend Alexander Turygin bitterly remarked: "It would be better at all of these sketches to forget".

While the subject of the Church in his work he developed constantly. Under the influence of novels Melnikov-Pechersky, dedicated statistics believers, Nesterov decided to, in his words, "to write with colors novel, romance in the paintings…". The artist has created three of the five planned "chapters" of the novel: paintings "On the mountains"(1896), "Great vows"(1897−1898) and "On The Volga"(1905).

St. Sergius of Radonezh Nesterov has devoted several paintings: "Vision of young Bartholomew" (1889−1890) and "Youth Of St. Sergius"(1893).

But most fully reflect the worldview of his paintings Nesterova "Holy Russia" (1901−1906) and "In Russia. The soul of the people" (1915−1916).

Hard work and a special creative method of Mikhail Vasilyevich Nesterov was assessed. In 1910 he was elected a full member of the Academy of arts in Moscow.


"Two passions all my life dominated me: passion love and passion for art. If it were not for these desires, I would be the most ordinary man may be a bad tyrant, a drunkard, loser."— so wrote about yourself Nesterov in the book of memoirs "Old days".

The artist was twice married: in 1885 he married Maria Martynovskaya. Beloved wife died after childbirth in 1886. Nesterov was so devastated that for a long time portrayed a cute image of the couple in their works. His three options "Princess"(1887) and "Christ's bride"(1887) depict favorite Masha. A portrait of his wife on his deathbed, he also wrote, but later destroyed the painting because he couldn’t stand to look at her.

Second marriage Mikhail concluded in 1902. With his future wife — 22-year-old Ekaterina VasilyevaThe 40 year-old Nesterov met in may and in July they were married.

While for young Katya Mikhail Nesterov left his civilian wife Julia, Orosman, from which the artist had a daughter Vera and two sons. The gap Nesterov considered a terrible sin to the end of life suffered them. Daughter financially helped.

He had "fleeting love". Traveling by ship, he met an Opera singer whose name he preferred not to name. Their relationship was interrupted at the initiative of the beloved. She said that can not become a friend of the artist: her unbearable such a burden. It is hard going through a breakup, Nesterov wrote "the Great vows".

The artist had seven children: Daughter Olga, from his first marriage; daughter Faith and sons from the civil wife Yulia, Rusman; two daughters and son, Natalia, Anastasia and Alexei, by his second marriage.


Two revolutions that have experienced the artist, did not meet with his support. Such changes are completely combined with a conservative worldview Nesterov. He left Russia because he did not see himself far from his native land. He had to completely change roles. He no longer wrote and symbolic paintings, showing how Russia is moving towards Christ. But it is not working: switched on portraits. His only portrait, still associated with the Church favorite subjects — "Archbishop"(1917). And in the writing of Metropolitan Mikhail demonstrated his gift of the painter, which often repudiated, saying: "I'm not a painter. I am an artist".

Of course, Mikhail V. he painted portraits before. But only in the post-revolutionary period they occupied it entirely.

The role of a portrait artist so captured the Nesterov that he constantly demanded new faces who could write. Approached with requests to the sculptor Anna Golubkina. But she strongly opposed to: "What are you! Me to write! Yes, I’ll go crazy! Where am I with my face on the portrait! I’m crazy". But, in fairness, it should be noted that most of the models agreed to pose.

The most well-known Nesterov’s portraits of post-revolutionary period: "Girl at the pond"(1923), "Portrait Korenich"(1930), "Sick girl"(1928), "Portrait of academician Pavlova" (1930), "Portrait of a biologist at the Severtsov"(1934), "Portrait of a surgeon Yudina"(1935).

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

Mikhail watched as the new government with an iron boot of arrests is held by his family was arrested and deported to the camps, his daughter from his first marriage to Olga. Then shot the husband of the daughter from her second marriage to Natalia.

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

The artist died of a stroke in his 81st year of life in Moscow at the Botkin hospital on 18 October 1942. Before the last day of holding the palette and brush — writing. The artist was buried at the Novodevichy cemetery in Moscow.

Author: Elena Siroid
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Artworks by the artist
total 293 artworks
Mikhail Vasilyevich Nesterov. The hermit
The hermit
1888, 142.8×125 cm
Mikhail Vasilyevich Nesterov. Holy Russia
Holy Russia
1905, 233×375 cm
Mikhail Vasilyevich Nesterov. Beyond The Volga
Beyond The Volga
1922, 83×104.5 cm
Mikhail Vasilyevich Nesterov. Autumn landscape
Autumn landscape
1906, 101×134 cm
Mikhail Vasilyevich Nesterov. A portrait of his daughter Olga Mikhailovna Nesterova ("Amazon")
A portrait of his daughter Olga Mikhailovna Nesterova ("Amazon")
1906, 175×86.5 cm
Mikhail Vasilyevich Nesterov. A portrait of his wife, E. P. Nesterova
A portrait of his wife, E. P. Nesterova
1905, 142.5×107.8 cm
Mikhail Vasilyevich Nesterov. Tsarevich Dmitry murdered
Tsarevich Dmitry murdered
1899, 197×175 cm
Mikhail Vasilyevich Nesterov. St. Sergius Of Radonezh
St. Sergius Of Radonezh
1890-th , 248×248 cm
Mikhail Vasilyevich Nesterov. A portrait of his daughter Olga Mikhailovna Nesterova ("Amazon"). Fragment
A portrait of his daughter Olga Mikhailovna Nesterova ("Amazon"). Fragment
View 293 artworks by the artist