He was born about 1690 in Moscow in the family of a priest, got the good for that time education: could read and write Latin, knew grammar, studied the "counting wisdom", at one time was a teacher of arithmetic and drawing at the artillery school in Moscow. Initial artistic training was received in the printing school at the Armory.
The fascination Nikitina painting became known to Peter I. the King instructed to do with Nikitin I. G. Tannauer, who came to Russia in 1711 and, like all foreigners, given the obligation to teach "Russian people all that he is able". Tannauer he began to study the laws of perspective and painting skills. Along with the lessons, Nikitin helped Tannauer to fulfill orders. The first teacher Nikitin drawing is considered to be a Dutch engraver A. Schoonebeek.
28th Sep 1714 dated signed Nikitin portrait of Praskovia Ivanovna, niece of Peter I (RM). This is one of the first independent works of the young painter. Here is still visible personna static, inability to transmit light and air. But in the guise of a cute and attractive girl feels the desire-
the artist is not only to similarity of appearance. He reveals the inner world of his model, giving it a poetic content.
Before you travel abroad Nikitin executed a number of portraits: Natalia Alekseevny — beloved sister of Peter I (TG), a Cossack in a red caftan (1715, Kharkov art Museum). All of them are striving for a realistic transfer of the image, thoughtful attitude to the characteristics of the human personality.
In the "field journal," 1715, is the record: "His Majesty's half a person wrote Ivan Nikitin". There are arguments that it refers to the image of Peter I against the background the naval battles (of the Catherine Palace-Museum in Pushkin). Previously, the portrait was considered a work of Tannauer or Caravaque, but he is much more expressive than the rest of their work.
The early portraits by Nikitin Peter helped to recognize the talent of the artist. In 1716, among the twenty people. having the ability of the arts, was sent as pensioners in Italy Ivan Nikitin with his younger brother Roman. What hopes were pinned on Nikitin, shows the well-known letter of Peter, written to his wife in Danzig 19 APR 1716: "Katerinushka, my friend, Hello! I got to meet Beklemishev and Ivan the painter. And how they will come to you, ask the king to ordered his person to him to write; in order to know that there are of our people, the good masters."
Portrait of "the matchmaker", which mentions the letter of Peter, Nikitin wrote later (1720-e, TG). Meant the Chancellor G. I. Golovkin, who was the matchmaker at the wedding of the niece of Peter I, Katherine.
In the picture Golovkin combining individual characteristics with the disclosure of the significance of this person as a statesman who concluded in his lifetime (as the inscription on the reverse side of the portrait) 72 "treatise" with foreign governments.
Upon arrival Nikitin in Italy Russian Ambassador P. I. Beklemishev gave him to do in the Venice Academy of arts. About a year Russian pensioners moved to Florence, where, at the request Beklemishev they were patronized by the Tuscan Duke Cosimo III de ' Medici. Led classes in painting Professor of the Florentine Academy of arts T. Redi. A great influence on art education Nikitina had acquaintance with the works of the great Italian masters.
In early 1720, the brothers Nikitin returned to St. Petersburg with letters and certificates from Beklemishev and Duke of Tuscany with rave reviews about the success in teachings.
Peter warmly greeted his "retired". He conferred on him the title of "the court of his Majesty personnic master", gave a house near his Palace and recommended the court to order the portraits of Ivan Nikitin. In one of the projects of the future Academy of arts I. N. Nikitin was scheduled for the post of Director. Numerous portraits he created on his return, talking about the maturity of his talent.
To solve the question of authorship of works Nikitina is very difficult. Subscription there are only three. Attributed to Nikitin portrait of Peter I in range (RM), best lifetime image of Peter. Perhaps this is the portrait that is written in the "field journal" of Peter 1721: "on the Kotlin island before the Liturgy wrote his Majesty's person Ivan the painter".
Despite outwardly of the chamber's decision, Peter shows a man of enormous inner strength and a great state of mind. This understanding of the person of the king was manifested when the funeral Commission instructed to write Nikitin portrait of Peter on his deathbed (1725, RM). Time was short; the portrait painted sketched, fugitive major strokes. It feels great pictorial and compositional skill of the artist.
A true masterpiece of Russian portrait painting is a portrait of "Outdoor Hetman" (1720-s, RM). The artist creates here charming in his humanity the image of an unknown associate of Peter. It's harsh and masculine. The years and trials is stamped on his face. A closer look smart sore eyes from under gray eyebrows. Open the composition, as if directly representing the model, a simple low-key color—matched to the human form.
Russia's military victories are reflected in the battle paintings attributed to Nikitin. Refers to "battle of Poltava" (1727, not preserved) and the picture, asserting the continuity of the glory of Russian arms — "battle of Kulikovo" (RM). In the last partially used, the composition of the engravings of the Italian A. Tempesta, but the characters, of course, from Russian history. To 1731 is a big signature work of Nikitin "the Genealogical tree of the Russian tsars" (RM). Conditional composition, the painting suggests a conscious return to the traditions of the XVII century. It was not accidental in the artist. Shortly after the death of Peter I, in connection with changes in the political environment, in the Outlook Nikitin ...
Nikitin is moving closer to the Moscow old Russian opposition. In the early 30-ies of the brothers Nikitin were arrested on the case of the preparation of the pamphlet on Feofan Prokopovich. From Moscow they were sent to Petersburg, to the Secret Chancellery, and then placed in the Peter and Paul fortress. The investigation lasted more than five years. Despite the fact that Nikitin's fault was small, in November, 1737, was followed by the decree of Empress Anna Ioannovna "Ivan Nikitin beaten with whips and sent to Siberia for life and forever for the guard." Along with him was sent and brother Roman. But in these difficult years Nikitin leaves no creativity. In the early 30-ies he paints a portrait of Praskovia Fedorovna, the widow of the brother of Peter the great and Ivan (Zagorsk historical Museum).
During the investigation Nikitin wrote a portrait of the chief of the Secret office of General A. Ushakov (TG), to which he might have replied the artist some slack. Even in Tobolsk, where the brothers were sent on a residence, Nikitin wrote. In the archives is a reference to the portrait of the Tobolsk Metropolitan Anthony Stakhovsky.
The known work — not all, what did the founder of the Russian portrait. The artist painted portraits of Catherine I, the daughter and grandson of Peter I, Alexander Menshikov with his family, the princes Golitsyn and Dolgoruky, he created the iconography of the image...
After the death of Anna Ioannovna, the Nikitin case was revised, and by decree of Anna Leopoldovna in 1741, the brethren received permission to return. On the way, the seriously ill artist died. (50 biographies of masters of Russian art. L., Aurora. 1970. P. 19)
Born in Moscow, son of a preacher man Nikita Nikitin, who served in Izmailovo, brother of the priest of Herodion Nikitin, later Archpriest of the Archangel Cathedral in the Kremlin, and of the painter of Roman Nikitin.
Studied in Moscow, apparently, at the Armory, under the guidance of Dutch Schonebeck in the engraving workshop. In 1711 transferred to St. Petersburg, studied at the Johann Tannauer, German artist, one of the first accepted the invitation of Peter the great to move to St. Petersburg to teach perspective painting of Russian artists. Quickly gaining authority in the court. In 1716-1720 on your state pension, together with his brother Roman sent among twenty people, to study in Italy, in Venice and Florence. He studied with such masters as Tommaso Redi and I. G. Danhauer. After his return became court painter. So, Nikitin owns a portrait of the dying of Peter the great. In 1732, together with his brother Roman, also a painter, was arrested on charges of spreading libels on Feofan Prokopovich. After five years of detention in the Peter and Paul Fortress was whipped and exiled to Tobolsk for life. In 1741, after the death of Anna Ioannovna, was given permission to return to Petersburg. Went in 1742 and died on the way.