Friday, September 20, 2013

Isaak Levitan: Russian Landscape Master

Readers of this blog who plan to visit Russia are most likely to do so via a cruise ship, which means that St. Petersburg and vicinity is what will be seen. And as for art, the place most likely to be visited will be the Hermitage. But there is more good art to be seen in St. Petersburg besides the Hermitage's collection, so I urge you to try to find time to tour The Russian Museum. It's not far -- about one kilometer east -- as the double-headed Imperial eagle flies.

There you will find examples of paintings by Russia's best late 19th century and early 20th century artists including the great Isaak Levitan (1860-1900) who died before reaching his 40th birthday. His Wikipedia entry is here and more biographical information is here.

By their nature, landscape paintings require less commentary that those dealing with people, so I'll simply let you examine some examples of Levitan's work below. However, let me note that he seems to have included water in his images where possible.  Perhaps selecting scenes with water was one of his strategies to add viasual interest in the part of Russia where he lived and worked -- a land with no mountains.



Evening on the Volga - 1888


Silent Monastary - 1890

After the Rain, Pylos - 1889

River Istra at Twilight - 1885

The Evening Bells - 1892

1 comment:

Mars p said...

I am absolutely enamored with the late 19th century work of the Russian painters. I find I am much more moved by what the American and their Russian contemporaries made do with the modern palette and the impressionist influence. I can imagine I'd be more at home in a Russian museum then I am at the B.M.A. in Baltimore.

An aside, my wife is Russian American, her family having left in 79. By way of her family history I bet there is actually a lot of wonderful stuff to see in Odessa as this was a jump point for many many of those leaving Russia during communist era. Those immigrating would lighten up there so to speak before leaving for Italy etc. before reaching their final least many of the Russian Jews. My wife and I intend to visit Russia someday soon but tho she was born in Ukraine we might have to instead visit Lithuania which has probably the very last medieval forest largely intact. As is I envy your trip to Russia and thank you for the post.