Vasily Surikov

Vasily Surikov
Vasily Surikov (Wassilij Iwanowitsch Surikow) was probably the foremost history painter in Russia. He was active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Born into a Cossack family in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, he studied at the Imperial Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg. Garnering awards and acclaim for his paintings, Surikov moved to Moscow, where he became friends with noted Russian artist Ilya Repin, and along with him, Ivan Kramskoy and others became an exhibitor in the traveling exhibitions by the Peredvizhniki (the Itenerants), a group of painters who chose to distance themselves from the Russian Academy.

Surikov lent his brush to the portrayal of great Russian historical tragedies, political upheavals and the deaths of leaders and political figures, as in Morning of the Execution of the Streltsy by Tsar Peter I (image above, with details).

Surikov would spend months or years gathering background information, costuming details and biographical studies; and producing multiple preliminary sketches to create his large scale historical works. He also often painted the same scene in differing sizes, either as a preliminary or as a variation on a larger or smaller version.

He also produced many individual portraits, landscapes and watercolors.

There is an official (I think) web site in Russian, but the links across the top are to galleries easily accessible to non-Russian speakers.

5 Replies to “Vasily Surikov”

  1. I was so thrilled to see Surikov’s Taking A Snow Fortress when the Guggenheim hosted the show of Russian art. A shame that the iron curtain has kept so many fine Russian painters from becoming more known in the west.

  2. I have a chance of going to Russia and seeing this first hand in the coming months…! Really thrilled. there are so many great Russian Masters i barely know!

  3. I stood where this piece was painted not that long ago there at Red Square. It’s a busy street and the spires of St Basil’s cathedral in the background are a different color now. I always admire painters that capture so much activity in such detail on canvas. It’s spectacular and captures the moment of that period so well.

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