Petro Aleksandrovich Nilus
(1869, Busheny village, Podolskaya province – 1943, Paris)
Petr Nilus is a Ukrainian genre painting artist, graphic artist, a member of Odessa Society of Fine Arts Amateurs and Literary and Artistic Society, a member and founder of the Society of South Russian Painters.
Since the age of seven he had lived in Odessa. He studied in the Petr and Pavel real college and then in College of Fine Arts in Odessa being an apprentice of K. K. Kostandi and G. A. Ladyzhenskiy. In 1889 upon graduating from college he continued studies in the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg being an apprentice of Ilia Repin. But in a year he decided to abandon studies for individual artwork.
First independent works of the artist were the genre paintings and landscapes that were often exposed in exhibitions of Association of Itinerants. Together with Ye. Bukovetskiy Petr Nilus developed the Statute of the Society of South Russian Painters and in 1893 he became the secretary of the management board.
In 1890s P. Nilus visited Paris, Austria, Italy, Germany and got acquainted with impressionism. He participated in literary critical collections of Odessa, published two books of stories and wrote reviews of Russian and foreign exhibitions for Odessa press. In 1915 the master held a personal exhibition in Odessa the profit from which was sent in favor of military refugees from western regions of the country. In 1920 Petr Nilus together with the writer Ivan Bunin, who was his friend for many years, left the country in general emigration flow.
In emigration the painter held personal expositions in Sofia (1920), Vienna (1921), Zagreb (1922, 1923), Bucharest and Belgrade (1923). In 1924 P. Nilus settled in Paris where he lived in one house with I. Bunin. The works of the painter were interesting for European spectator. In French capital the master held expositions in the galleries of G. Petit (1924), J. Charpentier (1924), M. Bernheim (1926), Zak (1934); his works were exhibited in the salon of National Society of Fine Arts (1925-1928), Independents (1925, 1927, 1929-1935, 1941-1943), Tiuilri (1930-1939).
Petr Nilus died on the May 23, 1943. His pictures are kept in Tretyakov Gallery, Odesskii Artistic Museum, Moscow Literary Museum and in other museums and the world’s private collections.
The portrait painting took a special place among the works of the artist. The “Portrait of A. P. Chekhov” (1902-1904) and the “Portrait of I. A. Bunin” are the most remarkable among his portraits of the famous people.
At the end of 80s of XIXth century realistic painting prevailed in the art of P.Nilus, then at the beginning of the XXth century he became a dedicated follower of modern. In 1920s he was fond of symbolism and in 1930s he finally returned to realism.