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Fedor
Alexandrovich Vasilyev

Russia 
1850−1873
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Fedor Aleksandrovich Vasilyev (10 (22) February 1850, Gatchina - September 24 (October 6) 1873, Yalta) - Russian landscape painter of the second half of the XIX century.

Features creativity Fedor Vasiliev. As an artist, Vasiliev was influenced by Shishkinand Kramskoybut, despite the short life, he managed to form his own direction in landscape painting - lyrical and poetic. His findings had a tremendous impact on the development of Russian art.

Famous paintings by the artist Fyodor Vasilyev: "Thaw", Wet Meadow, "Illumination in Petersburg","In the Crimean Mountains"

If you ask to list the largest Russian landscape painters of the XIX century, many will name Shishkin, Savrasov, Polenova, Levitan. Or Kuindzhi. Or Aivazovsky. The choice depends on personal tastes and preferences in painting. But Fyodor Vasilyev will hardly be remembered at once. Meanwhile, experts call this artist with such a common and therefore not very memorable last name a true genius in the field of landscape. It is believed that if he had lived longer than the 23 years he was allowed to go, the name of Fyodor Vasilyev would undoubtedly be among the listed masters. And he, with his exceptional talent, could eclipse one of them.

"Whip, goofy, Khlestakov ..."


In 1870 Ilya Repin, A 26-year-old student of the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts, who already has a Small Gold Medal and claims to be Great, meets in the Artel of Artists 19-year-old Fedor Vasilyev - a brilliant young man, cheerful, sociable, energetic, spouting wit and not without aplomb recommending that “retired reader of the Society of Free Shalopa.

Observing Repin didn’t like this cheeky subject right away: impudent, mocking, self-confident. Where do these people come from ?! Repin was angry and at the same time amazed: after all, they say that he is poor, this Vasiliev, but always perfumed, perfectly trimmed and dressed like the most genuine dandy - in a top hat, expensive coat, and like gloves. I didn’t really study anywhere - but now it scolds for nothing that the Academy and its orders, they say, are ridiculous, ridiculous, and for thirty years they are outdated. He doesn’t know any languages and hasn’t been abroad - and by the way he can paste a French or German ridiculous word or a Latin scholar into a conversation, that one simply wonders. And he himself tells the music, he did not specially study, he has no instrument at home - but he will sit at the piano and play something from Beethoven. Amazing subject!

And Repin decided to stay away from this type. But only charming Fyodor Vasilyev for some reason decided to come closer to him. Moreover, although he was younger by almost seven years, he put himself immediately patronizing. To begin with, Vasilyev said that it would be good for Repin to go to the Volga — otherwise he, having sat his pants at lectures at the Academy, must have never seen live barge haulers. Repin agreed: Of course, it would be good, but where did the funds come from? After all, he is still 17 years old brother musician Vasyatakes care of, which means you need to go with him. Therefore, it will take at least two hundred rubles. Vasiliev replied, they say, nonsense! There would be a desire, and there will be money: “Here I will not leave this place - in two weeks I will get you two hundred rubles”.

Being taken aback by such bravado, Repin immediately received a new kick from the restless Vasiliev. "Yes, only, you know, you shaved, - his new unbidden friend taught him fatherly, - be a decent young man. Well, how are you not ashamed to run such patles? After all, this is terrible, like a village deacon! ”

“Here is a dude! I do not hobble smart and smart! - muttered Repin. - And this one is dressed like a picture! Just some kind of Khlestakov! And fooling my head like a small child! ”

That this was, what kind of bird, this amazing Fyodor Vasilyev, Repin decided to ask the tutor and the senior comrade - Ivan Kramskoy. He seemed to have even taught Vasilyev something and was well acquainted with him. "This chick is not over the years dared! - Repin shared his indignation with Kramskoy, - he is forgotten! What do you think he is? ”

But informed Kramskoy was in no hurry to agree and cheat. On the contrary, Ivan Nikolayevich spoke about Fedor almost enthusiastically: “Ah, Vasiliev! This, priests, is such a phenomenon as it has not yet been on the earth! .. I have never met such a gifted nature! .. ” “Why, he has not even entered the Academy yet!” - marveled Repin. "So this may be for the better, - patiently explained Kramskoy, who headed the “Revolt of Fourteen” 7 years ago and defiantly left the Academy, - and then, his Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin takes care of. Ilya Efimovich, you need to see the works of Vasilyev as soon as possible! ”

Repin sees light, Vasilyev surprises


On the Seventeenth Line of St. Petersburg Vasilyevsky Island Ilya Repin, referring to the address, found a low-rise one-story house. The rooms in it were tiny, the easels by the window were crappy and loose. The owner of these wealth Fedor Vasiliev Repin found at work.

"I came from the light to see the pictures, and was numb, - then Repin will be recognized in his memoirs “Far near”, - pictures shocked me ... I was surprised to complete confusion ...
- Tell me, for God's sake, where are you so successful? - I babble. - Is it you yourself wrote ?! Well, I did not expect! .. The sky, the sky ... How is that? Is it really without nature? .. I have never seen so wonderfully fashioned clouds, and how they are lit !!! "

Less than two weeks later, Vasiliev, as he threatened, found money for the Volga expedition - they were given by his patron, Count Pavel Stroganov, a collector and philanthropist. The trip, which Repin could not even dream of, will nevertheless take place. "Barge Haulers on the Volga"Perhaps the most famous of Repin's paintings will be written (though not immediately, but 2-3 years later) thanks to the cheerful perseverance of an extraordinary young man, Fyodor Vasilyev.

That year Vasiliev also went to the Volga etudes with Repin. Repin recalled how carefully his friend was going on the road, how he bought himself an elegant, long and narrow road chest, how he made a shopping list with pleasure: whips, leggings for riding, several pairs of kid gloves, a dozen ties, various types of soap, cologne, disinfection drugs, and more - first aid kit, alcohol, inflatable pillows ...

Being annoyed with such wastefulness - he himself has nothing to do with these lordly things! - Repin did not yet suspect that with all his way of life Fyodor Vasilyev was striving to break out of the doomed and closed life circle, to which he was sentenced by the very fact of his birth. Throughout his short life, Fyodor Vasilyev will desperately fight the complex associated with his origin.

Family, childhood and early maturity of Fyodor Vasilyev


He was born on February 10 (22), 1850 in Gatchina, near St. Petersburg. His father, a small clerical worker, Alexander Vasilyev, lived in an unmarried marriage with bourgeois Olga Polyntseva, and therefore their elder children — the girl Eugenia and the boy Fedor — did not have the legal right to either their father’s middle name or his last name. Then the family will move to St. Petersburg (which, however, will not fix their fucking financial situation), the parents of Fyodor Vasilyev will get married and their two younger sons, Alexander and Roman, will thus become legitimate children. However, with Fyodor, the “stamp of illegitimacy” will last forever.

Father Fyodor Vasilyev biographers persistently compare with the typical characters of Dostoevsky: he was a loser, suspicious to paranoia and disrupting the evil on the family, a drunkard and a desperate player. Children grew up in an atmosphere of insecurity and scandals. But apparently, it was this that formed the character in Fedor Vasilyev, gave him an enviable inner core. When the 42-year-old father dies at the Obukhov hospital, all the worries about a rather big family will fall on the shoulders of the 15-year-old Fedor.

The purposefulness of the young Vasiliev was phenomenal.

From early childhood, he got involved in drawing pictures from magazines that he liked.
At the age of 10 he already worked with chalk and wrote in oils. And to his coming teacher, the writer Alexander Skabichevsky (remember, in Master and Margarita, the famous: Koroviev vs. Panayev wrote Skabichevsky, and Behemoth vs. Skabichevsky wrote Panayev? ”This is Bulgakov about him!) 11-year-old Fedor Vasilyev, with a serious air, presented a drawing for remembrance - you will still say Alexander Mikhailovich, someday be proud!

In the gymnasium of persistent Fyodor they took to study for free - as a reward for his extremely clear and sonorous children's voice, distinguished in the local church choir. During the holidays, the boy earned extra money - for a ruble a month he helped the postman carry a mail bag.

From the age of 12-13, he is hired to work for the post office — to disassemble correspondence and perform other petty work in order to at least somehow help the family. And at the same time, realizing his abilities very early, he starts attending the evening classes of the Drawing School at the Society for the Encouragement of Arts and arranges an assistant to Peter Sokolov, one of the best Petersburg restorers at the Academy of Arts, which is why they will often joke from the main entrance, and through the backyard.

At the age of 16, Vasiliev met with leading Russian artists - two Ivanas, Shishkin and Kramskoy. Kramskoy will remain his close and loyal friend for the rest of his life and will confess that Vasiliev, being a decade and a half younger, has greatly influenced him.

With Shishkin, already an academician who had just returned from Germany, where “Wherever you go, the Germans ask if this is the Russian who draws so beautifully”, 16-year-old Vasiliev feels paradoxically almost on an equal footing, and in 1867, both of them set off for artistic impressions on Valaam Island. If you look closely at the picture Shishkin “At the church fence. Balaam", then in the young man who was artistically sprawled on the grass, who spread his arms wide and free, no one recognizes anyone other than the happy and carefree Fedor Vasilyev (see also the portraits of Vasilyev by Kramsky: 1, 2).

After this trip, Ivan Shishkin will go to Elabuga to ask his merchant father for a blessing to the wedding with Evgeny Vasilyeva, Fedor's sister. A young Vasiliev in the same year will present at the exhibition a picture “On the island of Valaam. Stoneswhich will be very popular with Count Pavel Sergeevich Stroganov, a major patron of the arts who plays a significant role in the Society for the Promotion of Arts.

Stroganov bought this picture and began to patronize the 17-year-old nugget in every possible way, supplying him with funds and inviting him to visit Znamenskoye in Tambov province and Khoten in Sumy for a long time. Needless to say that for a novice landscape painter the opportunity to break out of St. Petersburg and see nature, picturesque and diverse, meant a lot. But Stroganov, in order for Vasiliev to have time to see more, also provided at his complete disposal a wheelchair for traveling.

In the two years through which he was destined to make an enchanting impression on Repin, a boy from a poor, almost impoverished family under the auspices of the brilliant Stroganov will acquire secular gloss and aristocratic manners. Kramskoy will say: "He, this bourgeois by birth, kept himself always and everywhere in such a way that those who did not know him believed that he was at least a blood count".

Fedor worked a lot, slept little, his talent was recognized immediately and unconditionally, the pictures were bought up, Vasiliev became the favorites of aristocrats and Petersburg bohemia. He had time everywhere: to the theater, to the ball, to the rink. What is striking is how much he managed to write with such a way of life and how far to go. All the same Kramskoy was surprised at Vasiliev's phenomenal learning ability: “He studied in such a way that it seemed as if he was living another time, and that he was left with something long forgotten only to remember.”.

Transient "Thaw" - in painting and in life


In 1871, Fyodor Vasilyev presented his painting “The Thaw” to the contest of the Society for the Encouragement of Artists. The work was a great success and won the first prize, beating the picture of the already famous Alexei Savrasov "Pechersky Monastery near Nizhny Novgorod".

This is a very unusual case: the artist is only 20 years old, he has neither systematic education, nor noble birth, nor money, and even recently did not have a middle name - he had no right to carry his father as an illegitimate. A successor to the throne, the future emperor Alexander III, orders a copy of his picture for himself and immediately places it in the Anichkov yard. One might think that such success of Vasiliev was due to the heir to the sentimental tendency to something deeply national in the picture, such as “bedclothes and homespun”, poeticized cold, poverty and impassability ( Levitan). But a year later, the Academy of Arts sends the "Thaw" to the World Exhibition in London - and there Fyodor Vasilyev is once again waiting for a resounding success. British newspaper writers write: “We would like the city of Vasiliev to come to us in London and write our London streets during a quick thaw ... Isn’t he the real artist for this task!”

It would seem - here it is, a triumph, for an outsider, perhaps, early and undeserved, but Fedor knows better than others how hard he went to him, as he did not back down from his vocation a single step. One could rest on our laurels. But neither relax nor long had to rejoice.

By the performance of 21, Vasiliev was subject to compulsory recruitment, in 1871 he had just reached the age of majority. Friends advised to enter the Academy of Arts as an auditor - this allowed them to delay the serving of military duty. But Vasilyeva was not happy about the danger in time - she was terribly morally depressed that in the received passport instead of the middle name “Aleksandrovich” he, illegitimate, was given “Viktorovich”.

One day, while riding on a skating rink, Vasiliev got excited and ate a lot of snow. The matter ended with the fever and fears of doctors that everything could turn out even worse - Vasiliev was suspicious of consumption and recommended that he leave the St. Petersburg climate rotten and move south, preferably to the Crimea. Vasiliev took caution lightly. Instead of the Crimea, for example, he went to Stroganov in Khoten. Ignoring the recommendations, take care, with another friend, the crap Kudryavtsev, went to Finland to “shout over Imatra” - there was such a popular entertainment. Standing among the icy cliffs on opposite sides of a roaring waterfall, young people with excitement and laughter echoed hoarseness and pain in the ligaments.

When he returned home, Vasiliev felt bad. Doctors clarified the diagnosis: throat tuberculosis. Only the Crimean climate, if, of course, you want to live and hope to create something, this was the final verdict.

Fedor Vasilyev: “I miss Russia and do not believe the Crimea”


Vasilyev did not want to go to the Crimea, but he had to. Mother and little brother Roman went with him. This pleased - Roman, born when he was already a teenager, the artist simply adored. But this added responsibility: Theodore was still the breadwinner of the family. There was more to be sad. Friends, friends, like-minded people, those with whom you could fool around and talk about art until the morning — all remained in the capital. On the shores of the Black Sea (the Vasilievs settled in Yalta) the sick artist felt like a fish thrown out of the water.

Moreover, the enchanting nature of the Crimea did not seem to Vasilyev to be enchanting, she was seen at times painfully bright, screaming and infinitely alien. “I miss Russia and do not believe the Crimea”- complained Vasilyev in a letter to Kramskoy. It is curious that exactly the same will happen later with Levitan: in the Crimea, he will yearn for the middle zone of Russia. Vasiliev has this painful feeling when there are mountains and the sea near him, and you yourself dream about steppes and swamps, aggravated by the thought that he may never see them again. A few years ago, traveling with Shishkin, he wrote to his sister Eugenia: “If you saw, Zhen, steppe! I have loved her so much that I can’t think about her. ”. Now he wrote a real hymn to the swamp in a letter to Kramskoy: “O swamp, swamp! If you only knew how painful the heart squeezes from grievous foreboding. Well, if again I can not breathe this freedom, this life-giving force waking up over the smoking water of the morning? After all, they will take everything from me if they take it. After all, I, as an artist, will lose more than half! ”

There were periods when doctors restricted Vasiliev in movement. He was not allowed not only to travel, but even to move from one room to another. Then the disease retreated for a while, and again there was hope that someday he would recover, to break out somewhere.

In Yalta, in his first Crimean winter, Vasilyev conceives and paints a landscape depicting a completely non-Crimean nature. According to the etudes, from memory, he creates the painting Wet Meadow. He himself defined his topic as "Morning over a swampy place". With excitement, he sends his nostalgic picture to Petersburg, Kramskoy. Vasilyev, I wonder what he will say? Can a picture participate in the exhibition (in this, however, he almost had no doubt). Or maybe then she will be able to win a cash prize? Oh, that would be so useful - Vasilyev already has so much debt, for 100 rubles allocated by the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, the three of you will not live long. Tretyakovsometimes throws money to him - but only for future pictures.

Kramskoy responded to Vasilyev feelingly: “This picture told me more of your diary.”. At the competition, however, she was given second place: first took "Pinery"Shishkin. But for the picture of Vasilyev a real struggle broke out. She wanted to buy the Grand Duke Nikolai Konstantinovich. But Tretyakov didn’t want to miss Wet Meadow. In truth, he hoped that Vasilyev would give it to him on account of his debt, but the masterful artist instead sent her to Petersburg. Then Tretyakov set out to "kill" the canvas of the Grand Duke. Shortly before the opening of the exhibition, he just rushed from Moscow to St. Petersburg for the sake of a considerable amount of a thousand rubles. gallery on account of debt).

Last two years


Gradually, Vasiliev got used to it, the nature of the Crimea began to touch him a little, to penetrate the heart. The last two years - despite the alien environment, despite the deadly disease - are considered the most fruitful in the work of Fyodor Vasilyev. He writes a lot, unrestrainedly, fruitfully, almost stops sleeping at night, work helps not to think about death. Nobody believes that Vasiliev will recover.

Friends support him with letters and occasionally come to visit. Vasiliev says how much he would like at least, as before, to “stray” across Russia with Shishkin or Repin. Somehow, after a long sleeplessness, something like a hallucination appeared to Vasilyev - he personally saw the picture "Christ in the wilderness", the work on which Kramskoy had just begun, and which, of course, Vasiliev could not see.

Once he was visited by old Aivazovsky, as Vasilyev ironically, "with his retinue." He sarcastically reacted to this indulgent visit, and in particular to the advice of Aivazovsky in terms of color. "... made happy by his visit to Aivazovsky, - reported Vasilyev to Kramsky, - and communicated among other good tips, a recipe for paints, with the help of which the Black Sea can be portrayed in the best possible manner. ”

In the last six months of his life, doctors forbade Vasiliev to speak so as not to bother his throat. He was forced to communicate with the help of "conversational notebooks" - these were once used by the deaf Beethoven.

After receiving his first prize in March 1873 in the Society for the Encouragement of Arts for the painting “In the Crimean Mountains”, Vasilyev asks to allow him not to hold exams at the academy for a scientific course in connection with his illness and to receive the title of artist 1 degree based on his work. This would solve several problems at once: living in Crimea with an expired passport and a name that he was not entitled to by law, he would receive official status, could count on paid treatment abroad. The academy pondered for a long time. But Vasiliev received a letter after all: it was written there that he was denied his request and only the title of “honorary free companion” was awarded.

Vasilyev's mother told Kramsky that with this letter Vasilyev stood for half an hour in the middle of the room, saying “It's over,” then he lay down and did not get up anymore. On September 24 (October 6), 1873, the 23-year-old artist died and was buried in Yalta at the Polikurovsky cemetery.

Author: Anna Yesterday

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