Bogdanov-Belsky Nikolai

Portrait of a Girl 68х48 cm, oil on canvas
About work

The work of N. Bogdanov-Belsky “Portrait of a Girl” is distinguished by its rich colors, impressionistic look in the interpretation of the plot, in which the author reveals a children’s theme. The artist managed to capture the instantaneous state of light, thus creating the impression of a natural, weightless environment. Shadows are very light, soft and transparent. The image of the girl is full of purity and charm. Huge thick delicate pink flowers play an important role in creating a general lyrical mood of the picture.

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Bogdanov-Belsky Nikolay Petrovich
(1868, Schitiky village, Belskyi district, Smolensk province, Russia – 1945, Berlin)

Nikolay Petrovich Bogdanov-Belsky is a Russian artist who worked mainly in the sphere of genre art.

His surname contains the history of origin – the God-given illegitimate from the Bel’skyi district. The second part of his surname was given to him when he became the academician in 1903: “My common surname was somewhat ennobled by the Emperor himself, Nikolai II who put it down into my diploma with his own hand, with the hyphen – Belsky”.

One could only imagine how many efforts and how much labor the village boy had to demonstrate, how much character and talent he needed to become a true artist and achieve recognition: when he’s 35 years old, he becomes an academician, when he’s 46 – he receives the title of active member of the Academy of Arts, for 12 years in a row (1909-1921) he was the chairman of the Association named after A. Quindzhi, which would be impossible without the grand personal authority of the artist and the man.

N. P. Bogdanov-Belsky began his education in the iconic painting workshop at the Troitse-Sergieva Lavra (1882- 1883), then in the Moscow College of Art, Sculpture and Architecture, in the class of V. Polenov, V. Makovsky, I. Pryanishnikov (1884-1889), in the Academy of Arts in the class of I. Repin. Before his enrollment into the Academy of Arts, Bogdanov-Belsky started participating in the exhibitions of the Association of Mobile Art Exhibitions, and starting from 1895 he became the member of that Association. He spent the money received for his painting “Sunday Reading” (1895, State Russian Museum) to go to Paris where he studied art in the studios of Cormon and Colarossi. Then he worked in Munich and Italy.

The name of Bogdanov-Belsky in Russia became widely known only after he painted such pictures as “Oral Counting” (1896, State Tretiakov Gallery), “Near the School Door” (1897, State Russian Museum).

The artist became widely known and honored, participated in the exhibitions of the Association of Mobile Art Exhibitions between 1890 and 1918, many exhibitions in Russia and abroad, in Paris (1909), Rome (1911).

Receiving an invitation from his friend, famous artist S. Vinogradov, he moved to Riga in 1921 for residence. At the first Soviet exhibition in America in 1924, the artist presented more than 10 of his paintings. At the largest exhibition in Prague in 1928, the success of Russian artists was enormous and unbelievable. 9 works were purchased from Bogdanov-Belsky, one of them was bought by the Prague National Gallery. In 1929, at the exhibition of Russian art in Copenhagen, the whole first hall was dedicated to the works of Bogdanov-Belsky. Also, the artist exhibited his works in Paris (Magelan, 1921), Pittsburg (1925), Prague (1928), Amsterdam (1930) etc.

Despite the diversity and nature of orders and portraits which Bogdanov-Belsky painted, in his creative works he gave all his love and heart to children. “I have spent many years at the countryside”, he said, “I am so close to the country (village) school, I often observed the peasant children and loved them so much for their frankness that they became the characters in my paintings”.

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