Monthly Archives: August 2010

Featured Artist: Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin | Иван Иванович Шишкин

Today’s featured artist is Ivan Shishkin, a well-known Russian painter known for creating many scenes of Russian nature in pre-revolutionary Russia.

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:


Russia Semi-Monthly Magazine

Last week, I happened upon an English-language magazine published in America during the 1940’s by several Russian emigrants. What makes this magazine interesting in particular is that it’s content is similar to that of this blog (It even talks about Russian involvement in America’s civil war, something I plan to write about in the near future). So in light of my recent absence, I’ve made several of these available to you, the reader, to compensate for the recent lack of new posts.

The first issue was published in 1944, beginning with a letter from Metropolitan Theophilus, who was leader of the North American Orthodox Church at the time. The first issue dealt with the relationship between Russia and America and most importantly the 150th anniversary of the Russian Orthodox Church in America.

The second issue of Russia was published soon after the first (in the same month, in fact), and continued it’s articles on Russians in America and discusses the ideology of Communism, in addition to a story on pre-revolutionary Orthodox Sunday schools.

Russia’s third issue was published shortly after on the first November, this issue continues it’s commentary on the Communistic system as well an article on the previously friendly relationship between Russia and America.

The fourth and last issue I have to show from Volume one was also published in November of 1944 and was dedicated to the White Russian liberation movement which fought the Communist uprising in 1917. This issue discusses several religious topics as well as including articles on Admiral Kolchak and the Russo-Japanese War.

The next issue to show is the 16th issue from Volume 2 which was published on the 15th of May on 1945. Much of this issue focuses on several aspects of pre-revolutionary Russia.

The 95th issue from Volume 7 is the last issue I’ve brought to show. This issue was published in September of 1950, by this time, the format of the magazine was drastically changed. By the time this issue was published, the magazine has taken a lean towards a more political, anti-communist direction. The graphics that would usually accompany the magazine’s articles are no longer present, this includes the front cover drawing by Theodore A. Depostels.

Very little information on this magazine is actually present, so I can only assume the magazine ceased publication sometime in the 1950’s, possibly soon after it’s change in format and goals. Although, when compared to some of today’s rather unsavory (i.e. Garbage) Russia-oriented magazines, there’s a clear difference in quality. Still, it’s an interesting look at the lives and views of Russian-Americans, when the community was at it’s highest point.

These and other issues of the magazine “Russia” can be found in the archives of the Museum of Russian Culture in San Francisco, please click here for more information.