Special issue. ISAAC LEVITAN
"Levitan's landscape" is a term firmly ingrained both in art scholarship and in the minds of many art lovers. A "Levitan landscape" is different from an "Ivan Shishkin landscape" or even landscapes by Alexei Savrasov or Vasily Polenov, although it is very close to the last ones. Usually, a "Levitan landscape" is a simple image of an almost always deserted natural environment - a creek, a narrow pathway, groves rolling on into the depth of the picture in a somewhat diagonal direction, or copses. It is set in different seasons, except (largely) winter -Levitan's pieces almost never feature images of snowy winter -and usually depicts a transitional season or summer; there are blue horizons and a high limitless sky with a distinct life of its own, beyond the mental grasp of human beings.
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When Yulia Sergeievna, the heroine of Anton Chekhov's 1895 story "Three Years", and her husband visited an art show in Easter week, making a tour of the rooms, she "stopped before a small landscape... In the foreground was a stream, over it a little wooden bridge; on the further side a path that disappeared in the dark grass; a copse on the right; near it a camp fire - no doubt of watchers by night; and in the distance there was a glow of the evening sunset. Yulia imagined walking herself along the little bridge, and then along the little path further and further, while all round was stillness, the drowsy landrails calling and the fire flickering in the distance. And for some reason she suddenly began to feel that she had seen those very clouds that stretched across the red part of the sky, and that copse, and that field before, many times before. She felt lonely, and longed to walk on and on along the path; and there, in the glow of sunset was the calm reflection of something unearthly, eternal."
The life story of Isaac Levitan as an artist is in many respects similar to the life stories of other graduates of the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. Most of them offspring of peasants or bankrupt merchants, and very few from noble families, they usually came to Moscow from the remote provinces practically penniless, and often, after the loss of parents, like Levitan.
"The import and significance of every true, great artist consists in the irresistible appeal of his personality and in how it reflects in his artwork", wrote Leonid Pasternak in a memoir about Isaac Levitan. The originality of Levitan as an artist lies in his being a natural, entirely self-sufficient landscape artist who fully realized his talent in landscape art. His landscapes eclipsed all his forays into different genres and creative activities. Who remembers now that Levitan illustrated magazines and books, designed stage sets, created portraits and still-lifes?
Levitan started using pastel sticks very early on. His youthful pieces such as the images of the little girls Nadya Yakovleva (1880, Russian Museum) and Lena Nenarokova (1880, Tretyakov Gallery) already have delicate pastel inclusions. However, it was not before the 1890s that Levitan's pastel explorations truly reached their creative peak. Among the pastels currently known and dated by the artist himself, "Storm" (1890, private collection, Moscow) is the earliest. From 1890 on Levitan created a number of remarkable pieces which established him as one of the premier masters of pastel art of the late 19th century.
August 18 (by the Old Style, 30): Born into the family of a railroad employee Ilya Abramovich Levitan in Kibarty (today Kibartai village in Lithuania).
MUSEUMS OF RUSSIA
In June 2010 the town of Plyos marked its 600th anniversary. 50 years ago, in 1960, the day for the festivities was set on August 30, which coincided with the centenary of the birth of Isaac Levitan, the illustrious landscape artist. Many artists from Moscow and the city of Ivanovo responded to the artist Boris Prorokov's call to donate their paintings to Plyos. The new picture gallery, an establishment operated on pro bono basis, was opened in 1961; initially it was accommodated at a Plyos agricultural college, on Sobornaya Hill, in a building which before the revolution was occupied by a governmental agency. Later, in 1962, the gallery moved to the Voskresensky church near Torgovaya Square, not far from a boat quay.
MUSEUMS OF RUSSIA
A landmark event happened on August 23 2008 in the village of Eliseikovo, in the Petushinsky District near Vladimir - the Levitan House of Landscape opened.