Born in the village of Matrenovka. Kherson province. In 868 he entered the Petrovsky-Razumov Agricultural and Forestry Academy in Moscow, but in 1869 he was expelled for participating in the populist movement and sent to Matrenovka. In the years 1870-1871. studied at Novorossiysk University in Odessa, served as the cashier of the Odessa State Bank, but later left his service and studies and became manager of his father’s estate. Since 1877, in exile in Paris, where he began to systematically engage in painting. He was a member of the Paris Society for the Assistance of Russian Artists. Since 1893 he lived permanently in Belgium. In 1901 he returned to Russia, but in 1906 he returned to Belgium. Since 1905, a member of the Association of Traveling Art Exhibitions. At the end of 1913 he arrived in St. Petersburg, where he was caught by the First World War. In the years 1917-1919. lived in the Kuban, having experienced all the hardships of the civil war. In 1919 he was able to leave for Belgium. Died in Brussels.
Pokhitonov came from a family of hereditary military. His father was Ukrainian by nationality, his mother was a Serb. In 1871, he went abroad with his mother and sick sister, and as it turned out - for a long time. At first he remained there because of his weak lungs, then - due to family circumstances (a family appeared, a son was born). But every summer he came to Russia, worked a lot in kind in his native places. Then he bought an estate in the Minsk province and thought to stay there forever, but the revolution and civil war forced him to leave his homeland in 1919.
Pokhitonov began self-taught. In Paris, he studied under the landscape painter A.P. Bogolyubov, studied painting of the Barbizonians, K. Corot, the impressionists. Constructiveness, a free pictorial manner, amazing fidelity and clarity of tonal and color relationships make him the most French among Russian landscape painters ("Early spring. Po. Laundresses on the banks of the Gava", 1885; "La Panne. Beach", "Tru Lout. Autumn evening, Tru Truet. Early Spring, all 1895; Entrance to Yasnaya Polyana, 1905; Laundresses at the Pond. Zhabovschina, 1900s, etc.).
The French, on the other hand, admired the harmony and clarity of its landscapes, the ability to convey object form to an illusion, and virtuoso technique (Laundresses, 1890; Snow in Poe, 1890s; Tru-Luet. Winter. View from the artist’s apartment, 1895; "In winter. Toad-hunting", 1900s, etc.). His landscapes can be called miniatures. He painted on small tablets (he preferred lemon or mahogany), he himself carefully and carefully prepared them for painting. He wrote with thin brushes and used a magnifying glass. At the end, the dried up colorful surface was polished with a fish bone, achieving smoothness and brilliance.
The colors of his landscapes shine even now, like enamel. French critics compared Pokhitonov with the "little Dutch", with the then-famous miniature painter E. Meissonier. Pokhitonov’s originality, his dissimilarity to others was that he was able to combine the virtuoso technique of miniature painting with a lively, direct sense of nature, plein air searches. If S.-F. Daubigny and C. Monet sailed along the rivers of France in workshop boats, while Pokhitonov drove along the roads of France in a tailor-made workshop car with a high light specially made for him. In addition to landscapes, Pokhitonov painted miniature genre scenes, still lifes, portraits ("Portrait of I. S. Turgenev", 1882 is considered one of the best).
The talent of Pohitonov received official recognition at home: in 1904, the Academy of Arts made him his full member and gave the title ... artist-battalist (in 1881, by order of the Russian government, he executed 9 panels depicting the localities in Bulgaria where battles of the Russian-Turkish war).