Superfluous, vulgar, brilliant: the artist who annoyed fellow Wanderers (23 photos)

14 April 2024
Category: painting, 16+

When it comes to the Itinerants, almost everyone will remember Kramskoy, Savrasov or Perov. And although this master was not inferior in skill to his colleagues, for some reason his name remains behind a veil of secrecy.

Nikolai Bodarevsky was born in 1850 into an impoverished noble family. The father, seeing his son's desire to draw, sent the boy to an art school. After which Nikolai easily entered the Academy of Arts of St. Petersburg. Where he was on the list of the best students, he was repeatedly awarded and upon graduation received the title of class artist of the 1st degree (the level of qualification of an artist in the Russian Empire).

Nikolay Bodarevsky

At first, Bodarevsky did not stand out in any way from the background of the Itinerants, who expressed their vision of the world through naked psychologism and realism, bordering on naturalism, demonstrating a generally tragic view of reality.

But only at the beginning of a creative journey. Then his colleagues in the brush and genre noticed that Nikolai no longer complied with the rules. He painted sunny, bright, positive canvases, full of life and simple everyday joys.

The Peredvizhniki - an association of Russian artists that arose in the last third of the 19th century and existed until 1923

No beggars, tramps, cripples or religious fanatics for you. It must be said that the public appreciated such creativity (which is logical, because few people want to see a sad, albeit talented, painting in their home). And Nikolai Kornilievich switched to commercial tracks.

But at the same time he remained a truly versatile master, easily creating portraits, landscapes, historical sketches and works in other genres.

The Peredvizhniki artists, Bodarevsky in a row of people sitting, on the far right, next to the standing Repin.

It must be said that he often embellished portraits, especially women’s ones, without departing from the original. But the ladies were satisfied. The artist community was indignant and demanded that Bodarevsky’s paintings be removed from exhibitions. Artists even united and addressed a manifesto to Repin as the most authoritative member of the community. But Ilya Efimovich was embarrassed, upset and said that this was somehow wrong, not human.

Portraits of outstanding composers in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory

However, sometimes enemies still sought to remove several works from the Traveling Exhibitions, in which Bodarevsky took part since 1880.

In 1889, the artist received an order to paint a series of portraits of Russian composers for the decoration of the Great Concert Hall at the Moscow Conservatory. And he did an excellent job. Bodarevsky and other masters also took part in the painting of the Savior on Spilled Blood.

Mosaic panels created according to sketches by N. Bodarevsky in the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

After the revolution, Bodarevsky did not leave the country. In recent years, he presumably lived in Odessa, where he died in 1921 at the age of 71. His grave has not survived. The works of the artist, who remained a stranger to his own people, are included in the exhibitions of various museums and private collections. Although, what is noteworthy, paintings are often found on the Internet without indicating the author.

"The Trial of the Apostle Paul"

“Apple saved in Little Russia”

"In the forest thicket"

“Author and Model” (self-portrait of the artist)

"On a date"

"For the book"

Portrait of a lady in lilac

Landscape painting example


"Girl with a Rose"

"Girl Herding Geese"

"Girl Reading a Book"

"Girl from Little Russia"

Portrait of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna


"The Last Berries"

"Girl with a cat"

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