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 Vasily Shukhayev

Born:   1887
Deceased:   1973

Russian artist of the Silver Age, an expert in sanguine portrait.


Vasily Ivanovich Shukhayev was born into a shoemaker's family and lost his parents early in childhood. However, he managed to enter the Stroganov Art and Industry University in Moscow. He was tutored by the renowned artist Konstantin Korovin and I. Nivinsky. Vasily Shukhayev continued his education in the Higher Art School at the Saint Petersburg Academy of Arts (1906-12), in D. N. Kardovsky’s Studio, where his age-mate Alexander Yakovlev also studied.
The artists Vasily Shukhayev and Alexander Yakovlev became bosom friends and adherents in art. Both of them were bright representatives of Kardovsky’s school. Neoclassicism, which was a new trend for those years, found reflection in their creativity.
As a student of the Academy of Arts yet, Vasily Shukhayev started participating in exhibitions. His graduation work named The Bacchanalia (1912) faced with misunderstanding of the academy superiors. Inspired by Rubens's works, it confounded with its frank and seamless resorting to art of the past. The young artist’s aspirations were supported by Alexander Benois, whose authority as an art critic was indisputable.
Having failed to gain recognitions of the Academy of Arts he went to Italy as the pensioner of The Russian Community in Rome. Vasily Shukhayev was soon joined by his friend Alexander Yakovlev. The young artists studied works by old masters and extensively painted from life in Italy. Their double self-portrait named the Harlequin and Pierrot is one of the classical works. The idea of this self-portrait was prompted by the play Scarf of Kolombina staged by Vsevolod Meyerhold in The House of Interludes, St. Petersburg in 1911. Both the artists took part in the stage production. Alexander Yakovlev completed his part of the self-portrait in Italy, whereas Vasily Shukhayev’s part was delayed until 1962. The artist depicted himself as Pierrot. Accurate academic drawing, smooth painting, and expressly symmetric composition of this canvass were a peculiar response to the experiments and innovations typical for the art of those years.
Other paintings by Vasily Shukhayev also look up to painting of the past epochs. Thus, the portrait of Larisa Reysner (1915) reminds of the Renaissance and the portrait of Elena Shukhayeva (1917) is akin to ancient full-dress portraits. Vasily Shukhayev resorted to wax painting, which was nearly abandoned at that time. Theatricality and retrospectivism of these works were close to the art principles of the famous World of Art association. Vasily Shukhayev took part in its exhibitions.
He went on reviving traditions of the old masters after 1917 as well.  Lots ofVasily Shukhayev’s paintings of those years have not come down to us. However, a great number of his full-scale sketches have been preserved. 
Sanguine was his favourite technique. Sanguine portraits by Vasily Shukhayev, such as for example, Portrait of S. N. Andronnikova (1917) have long been recognized to be paragons of portrait art.

Tags: Vasily Shukhayev Russian painters    

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