“I avoided portraying the so-called strong passions, preferring to them our quiet landscape, a person living an inner life” -Mykhailo Nesterov.
Mykhailo Vasilyevich Nesterov (1862-1942) – Russian and Soviet artist, painter, participant in the partnership of traveling exhibitions and the World of Art. Academician of painting (1898). Honored Artist of Russia (1942). Laureate of the Stalin Prize of the first degree (1941). He was born in Ufa in an intelligent merchant family with a religious-patriarchal order.
Mother, Maria Mikhailovna (1823-1894), distinguished by a rich nature and imperious character, came from Yelets, from the old merchant family of the Rostovtsevs. Father, Vasily Ivanovich Nesterov (1818−1904), a man of direct and independent nature, very revered in his city, was engaged in the sale of manufactured and haberdashery goods. However, by vocation, he was not a merchant, trade did not really interest him, he was more interested in history and literature, he liked to read books. He showed a lively warm interest, close attention and encouraging participation in the artistic talent of his son, for which Nesterov was deeply grateful to him until the end of his life.
Until the age of twelve, Nesterov lived in Ufa, studied at the gymnasium. His childhood memories were always imbued with warm gratitude and cordial love for all that surrounded him then – his native home with a traditional Russian way of life, parents, relatives, and Central Russian nature. As his friend Sergei Durylin wrote: “Nesterov, still a child, had a strong attraction to nature, had a sensitivity to her beauty, a sensitivity to her great language.”
In 1877, on the advice of Voskresensky, he entered the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, where he studied under the direction of P.S. Sorokina, I.M. Pryanishnikova and V.G. Perov, who was his favorite teacher and who had a strong influence on the early work of the artist. Since 1879, Nesterov began to take part in student exhibitions organized at the School. Among his works of the early period (1879–1884), the following paintings on household themes can be noted: “Snowballs”, “Waiting for the train”, “Victim of buddies”, “House arrest”, “Expert” and “Exam at the rural school”. All of them are written in the traditions of Russian asceticism.
He spent three years at the school of Nesterov. In 1881 he moved to Petersburg, where he entered the Academy of Arts on the course of P.P. Chistyakova.
The Petersburg Academy disappointed the young artist, who in 1882 returned to Moscow with the hope of returning to the school to Perov, however, his beloved teacher was already at his death. Nesterov managed to write a portrait of a fading mentor.
In 1882, Nesterov again entered the School of Painting, studied under A.K. Savrasova. He spent the summer of 1883 in Ufa, where he met M.I. Martynovskaya, his future wife. Returning to Moscow, he studied in the class of V.E. Makovsky. Since 1884 he painted genre paintings on historical topics, such as “The reception of ambassadors” (1884), “The Death of False Dmitry”, “Gathering at a burnt church in Moscow” (sketches, 1885), “Shutovskaya caftan. Boyarin Druzhina Andreevich Morozov in front of Ivan the Terrible ”(1885). At this time, Nesterov also made drawings for magazines and books (including for the collection of works of A.S. Pushkin, for fairy tales and epics) for work in A.D. Stupina. ”
In 1885, for the painting “Calling M.F. Romanova to the kingdom ”received the title of free artist. By the end of the 80s, Nesterov became known as the author of paintings on historical topics that reflect his interest in the past of the Russian state, in particular in the pre-Petrine era. His work of this period: “The meeting of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich with Maria Ilyinichnaya Miloslavskaya”, “The campaign of the Moscow sovereign on foot on a pilgrimage in the XVII century.”, “Wedding train in Moscow in the XVII century.”
In the summer of that year, contrary to the wishes of her parents, Nesterov married M.I. Martynovskaya. After the wedding, the artist continued to work on magazine drawings and illustrations for the publication of works by Pushkin, N.V. Gogol and F.M. Dostoevsky. In 1886, for the painting “Before the Emperor, the petitioners” was awarded the title of class artist and the Big Silver Medal.
In May 1886, the daughter Olga was born to the artist, while his wife M.I. Martynovskaya died. The image of his beloved wife was traced in many subsequent works of the artist. In 1887, he created three versions of “The Princess”, and then the painting “The Bride of Christ” – all of these works captured the features of the deceased.
In this picture, which gave rise to a whole series of images of girls and women with a sensitive, lonely soul, full of inner beauty and suffering, Nesterov created a new poetic image, through and through Russian and folk. Here, for the first time, he depicted the low-key beauty of Central Russian nature. This unique type of landscape (close to the spirit of I. Levitan, lyrical, devoid of external gloss and bright colors, imbued with love for Russia) was later called “Nesterovsky”. The unchanging components of the Nesterov landscape, repeating in endless variations in his paintings – these are thin white-trunked birches, stunted spruce