Russian painter, etcher and draftsman Ivan-Ivanovitch Shishkin was also a naturalist. He based his stunning landscapes of dense northern forests not only on careful observation, but on a deep understanding of nature and natural forms.
Shishkin studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture and then at the St. Petersburg Imperial Academy of Arts where, after travels and studies in Germany, Switzerland and Czechoslovakia, he returned to become a professor. He became a member of The Itinerants, a group of Russian painters who banded together for traveling exhibitions, and the Society of Russian Watercolorists.
Shishkin’s attention to botanical detail earned him the nickname of “the book-keeper of leaves”, but his paintings are anything but cold studies of plant species, they are magnificent excursions across the sweeping fields of the Russian plains and into the dark cathedrals of her forests.
There is a terrific post on Articles and Texticles about Shishkin that goes into more detail than I can here and mentions the ArtsStudio, a team of artists and conservators working in the Art Conservation Department of the State Russian Museum, who paint faithful copies of Russian masterpieces and post photos of their process online, including a copy of the Shishkin painting above, “The Mast Grove” (meaning a grove of pines large and true enough to be used for making ships’ masts).