Ivan Shiskin was born in Elabuga of the Vyatka Governorate (Now Tatarstan) on January 25, 1832 to a merchant family. In his youth, Shishkin began to show an early skill for painting, this later convinced his father to send him to the Moscow School of Painting and Sculpture in 1852. Shortly after in 1856, he continued his education in the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts (he would later become a professor in the academy from 1873 to 1898).
His skill at the academy took off quickly, soon earning him a major gold medal, in addition to every other award the academy offered. This impressed his teachers enough to award him a grant for studying abroad in western Europe. He traveled to several countries including Switzerland, Belgium and the Czech Republic.
During that time, Shishkin made several etchings, the amazing attention to detail impressed several German critics in the town of Dusseldorf. This encouraged Shiskin to paint “View near Dusseldorf” in 1865, earning him the title of Academician (the painting itself was later displayed at the 1867 World’s Fair in Paris).
The same year, Shishkin returned to St. Petersburg to pursue his painting career. Shortly after joining the Peredvizhniki (Передвижники), he began traveling across the country and creating his most famous works. The artist was known for bright and colorful depictions of nature, which amazed many far and wide, later allowing him to take part of several exhibitions at the Academy of Arts, the All Russian Exhibition in Moscow, and several appearances at the World’s Fairs.
Although contrary to the themes present in his works, his personal life was very troubled as both his first and second wives died, in addition to his children. Despite this, Shishkin never reflected this in his paintings and continued his work at his Dacha south of St. Petersburg.
The painter died in 1898, at work in front of a canvas. Despite living for only 66 years, his works have received praise all across Europe, one of his famous works, “Morning in a Pine Forest” (A copy of which hangs in the Museum of Russian Culture) is located in the Hermitage and is even found on the wrapper of a popular Russian candy.
Ivan Shishkin is regarded as one of the most prominent examples of Russian pre-revolutionary artists, later inspiring several other artists after the painter’s passing.
See more of Shishkin’s works at these links: