Ivan Kramskoy (1837-1887)
Ivan Nikolayevich Kramskoy was born into the family of a provincial state clerk. He had no opportunity to study art during childhood. At the age of 15 he became an apprentice to an icon-painter, a year later a photographer took him as a retoucher. Only in 1857, he managed to come to St. Petersburg and enter the Academy of Arts. There he soon became a popular leader among the students. In 1863, he was among the 14 best graduates who refused to fulfill the diploma work on a given mythological theme.
Ivan Kramskoy is famous mainly as a portraitist; his portraits of the 60s are not large, and very often monochrome, reminding of photographs. At the same period (1863-68) Kramskoy taught in The Drawing School of the Society for Promoting of the Artist.
In 1873 Tretyakov commissioned the Portrait of Leo Tolstoy for his gallery. Tolstoy had refused several times. And Kramskoy managed to do this, the writer and the artist were both impressed by each other's personalities. Kramskoy painted one of the best of all Tolstoy's portraits.
The artist died on 24 March 1887 during his work on the portrait of Doctor Rauhphus with brush in his hand. Kramskoy's works embody the high moral and social ideals of his time. For him, artistic truth and beauty, moral and aesthetic values were inseparable. His works greatly influenced his contemporaries' ideology. Today they still affect people because the artist's attitude to life was based on love and respect of man, on his belief in truth and justice.
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