The son of a peasant. He studied in St. Petersburg in icon-painting workshops (1855-1862).
In 1863, enrolled as a student of the Imperial Academy of arts. Attending her classes, was awarded in 1864 and 1865 two small silver medals for their achievements in drawing and painting from nature and the painting "the Sick child" that brought him, in 1865, gold medal, established to recognize excellence in expression. When you exit your from the Academy in 1866 received the title of class artist of which in 1870 was elevated to the Academy.
Since 1872 has been a member of traveling art exhibitions and is them with their paintings, depicting scenes of the common people, mostly rural life.
V. M. Maksimov was born in a peasant family. Early deprived parents, was apprenticed to icon-painting workshop, where he received his first painting lessons.
In 1863 Maksimov entered the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts volunteer, and in 1864 became a member of the Artistic team, led by P. A. Krestonoscy. Artel was organized "for the joint work and life," like the farm I. N. Kramskoy, but lasted just over a year. Written Maximov, at that time painting "the Sick child" (1864) was awarded the gold medal of arts "for the expression".
After going through the entire academic course in three years, the artist has abandoned the competition for a gold medal, as once refused a group of "fourteen", headed by I. N. Kramskoy. "My beliefs make me not to go to the competition - he said - I'm against foreign missions because I want to study first, Russia and the poor Russian village, which nobody knows, does not know a rustic of need and grief".
Received in 1866 the title of class artist of the 3rd degree, Maximov left the walls of the AH and went to the village of shubino in Tver province in the estate Golenishev-Kutuzov to the position of home teacher of drawing. In the summer of that year made a trip but the Volga, which left a lot of vivid impressions of life of the people. He later spoke to P. M. Tretyakov, "wrote city of ladies in silk dresses, uniformed workers and other unfamiliar people and moved permanently to rural life." His work "Grandma's tales" (1867), shown at the exhibition OPH, was awarded and then purchased for the Tretyakov art gallery.
However, the most complete talent Maximova appeared in the film "the arrival of the sorcerer at a peasant wedding" (1875). This is an epic picture of people's life, with an abundance of characters, creating a "choral beginning", marked by a deep knowledge of village life. Poetic images of the bride and groom, the hawk, the profile of the sorcerer, the expressive types of the elderly written with specific people and are very truth of life. Peasants themselves, Maximov, told him: "You are ours, if they write, not for laughter".
In the painting "Sick husband" (1881), the artist has kept close to his subject, depicting a sick peasant village PA couch, in the house where icons were bent mournful female figure. In these years Maximov has created a series of paintings devoted to the life of the poor peasant heavy Dole: "the Poor supper" (1879), "Auction for back taxes" (1880), "Loan of bread" (1882), "the Blind boss" (1884), "By his stripes" (1891), "a spirited mother-in-law" (1893). About similar works by the artist I. N. Kramskoi said, "Yes, Yes, the people painted. "..." Behold, the genre painters, who learn". The atmosphere of post-reform villages, the decomposition of the Patriarchal life, showed Maximov in his work "Family section" (1876), depicting the division of property between two brothers. Self-interest and greed, on the one hand, and the helplessness and meekness on the other. This eternal theme is particularly strongly expressed in female images: a bereft and cheated the younger daughter-in-law, in whose appearance was affected by the tradition of poetic feminine types he used, the artist has contrasted the greedy and foolish wife of his older brother. "Flint peredvizhnichestva", "the most enduring stone of its Foundation" - the so-called Maksimova I. E. Repin.
Member of the first traveling exhibition, which was unanimously adopted in November 1872 the ranks of the Association of traveling art, the artist, all his work was dedicated to the image of the people. Among the important works of Maximov stands somewhat apart from the Central themes of his work painting "All in the past" (1889). Imbued with nostalgia for a bygone era, it continues the motif of a dying Turgenev's "noble nest". The artist depicts a scene in an old mansion, with boarded-up manor house, once the survivors the best of times, and now only a reminder of them, the former owner who moved into a peasant house and resting in a chair under his window. Feeble, but majestic figure of the old lady, lost in memories, it becomes even more striking from contrasting it touching the shape of chaperone - old peasant, whiling away the dull days near ladies. The picture was a great success and was many times repeated by the artist.
The last two decades of life Maksimova was full of the bitter poverty and deprivation. Survivors their topics (in place of the Wanderers came artists new directions), it is of almost no customers, still wrote stories of peasant life, and shortly before his death he began painting "forgiveness Sunday", but never finished it. Poverty, malnutrition, disease brought the artist to the grave. However, in the history of Russian art Maksimov took its rightful place as the chronicler and connoisseur of folk life.