In the history of world painting there were few painters, true connoisseurs and masters of writing horses with such anatomical accuracy as did Nikolai Semenovich Samokish (1860-1944).
N. Samokish is one of the founders of the realistic trend in battle painting of the late XIX – early XX centuries. His path to art seemed to be predetermined from childhood. In the city of Nizhyn, rich in its heroic history, Cossacks who distinguished themselves in wars were awarded the noble title, which, however, did not give either money or other privileges, except for the opportunity to study. The ancestors of Samokish were just such nobles, and his father was just a postman. The family did not live well. The inability of the father to support a large family (wife and five children) led to the fact that the young man often lived with his relatives, who in their own way influenced his childhood hobbies. While studying at the gymnasium, his teacher was the artist R.K. Muzychenko-Tsybulsky immediately noticed N. Samokish’s abilities and tried to convey to the little boy everything that he knew and was able to do. In 1877, Samokish moved to Lutsk to his uncle, then decided to enter the Academy. Admission was given to N. Samokish is not easy. In 1878, the first attempt to enter the Imperial Academy of Arts failed, but he was accepted by a volunteer into the battle workshop of Professor B.P. Villevalde. After a year of classes, he was accepted by a student in the class of B.P. Villevalde, P.P. Chistyakova and V.I. Jacobi (1879-1885 gg.).
In the years 1885-1889. N. Samokish received the right to a retirement trip to Paris. There he studied in the workshop of the French battalist E. Detaille. In the same years, he went three times to the active Russian army, and also visited Italy, Spain, Algeria. In 1886 and 1889 the artist traveled around the Caucasus and Transcaucasia, with the goal of collecting materials for paintings commissioned by the Tiflis Military History Museum.
In 1890, the artist was awarded the title of academician for the painting “The herd of white trotter queens at a watering hole” (Herd of horses of the Novo-Tomnikovsky plant). In the same year he married E.P. Beyard (better known in the history of art as E.P. Sudkovskaya-Samokish, widow of the artist R.G. Sudkovsky).
In the last decade of the 19th century, Russia did not conduct major military campaigns. Orders for battle paintings were almost never received, which allowed N. Samokish to devote himself entirely to graphics. N. Samokish was one of the best illustrators of the Russian book. Even I.E. Repin noted the outstanding abilities of N. Samokish. One of the artist’s works of those years is illustrations for the book by G. Radde “23,000 miles on the yacht” Tamara “(1890-1891). The drawings reproduced in it clearly conveyed the life of the peoples of India. Many, including I. Repin, believed that Samokish was in India and saw people depicted by him with his own eyes – his drawings were so realistic.In fact, Samokish performed drawings from photographs brought from expeditions, which once again emphasized his ability to “turn” spectacular pictures into graphics. One of the most famous works of Samokish in the field of book illustration is to create the image of the now famous books of N.I. Kutepov “In elk-princely and royal hunting in Russia. “Samokish was the author of bindings of all four volumes of the publication, bookends and illustrations in the text. His pen drawings were often accompanied by elements of ancient Russian ornaments. And again, as in his paintings, he was attracted by the movement of animals, whether hounds of dogs, horses or wild animals.Samokish performed drawings for them with the beginning of the era of art postcards.
In 1904, Samokish as a war correspondent was sent to the army in the Far East. This trip has largely changed the artist. Subsequently, N. Samokish will write: “I chose battle painting as my specialty because I considered war the greatest tragedy of mankind. To transfer and portray it in picturesque images, as far as my strength and abilities, I considered it my holy duty.” Samokish brought many works and photographs from the trip.
In 1915, N.S. Samokish formed an “art detachment” of five students of the battle class of the Academy of Arts (RR Frents, PI Kotov, PV Miturich, PD Pokarzhevsky, KD Trofimenko) and went to the front World War I This is a unique case in the history of art: art practice at the front. About 400 work was done.
In 1910, the artist was invited to the Academy of Arts as a temporary deputy professor Franz Alekseevich Roubaud. From 1912 to 1918 N. Samokish taught at the Academy of Arts as a professor-leader of the battle class.
The revolution of 1917 found the artist in Simferopol, where he went to be treated for rheumatism, the artist decided to stay in Crimea. He continued to paint battle paintings on the heroics of the Civil War. All of them, in their own way, continued those “desperate” impulses that were present in the master’s paintings before the revolution.
In the years 1918-1921. He lived in Yevpatoriya (where he created more than 30 paintings), since 1922 – in Simferopol. It was in Simferopol that he created his own art studio (Samokov’s studio