Alexey Egorov

Self-portrait (in adolescence) Oil on canvas. 55 x 44.3 cm, State Tretyakov Gallery
Self-portrait (in adolescence) Oil on canvas. 55 x 44.3 cm, State Tretyakov Gallery

Alexey Egorov is a great teacher for young artists and a tyrant for his own daughters

Alexey Egorovich Egorov (1776 September 10 (22), 1851) a famous Russian artist of the first half of the 19th century, an outstanding master of the religious genre. Egorov Alexey also became famous for painting portraits of nobles and icons for Orthodox churches.

The masterpieces of his work are now kept in the best Russian museums. In his paintings, the painter depicted the anatomical features of the human figure with amazing accuracy and was an ardent adherent of academic painting. There are many interesting facts in the artist’s biography that deserve the attention of descendants.

Alexey Egorov was also an excellent teacher and devoted a lot of effort to teaching young talents at the Imperial Academy of Arts. Among his students, the names of Karl Bryullov, Alexei Markov, Pyotr Basin, Alexander Ivanov and Fyodor Bruni should be especially noted.

Alexey Egorov. Portrait of the daughters of the sculptor I.P. Martos Vera Ivanovna, the wife of the artist A.E. Egorov, and Sophia Ivanovna (1798 - 1856)
Portrait of the daughters of the sculptor I.P. Martos Vera Ivanovna, the wife of the artist A.E. Egorov, and Sophia Ivanovna (1798 – 1856)

Biography of Alexei Egorov

Alexei Egorov was born in the steppe expanses of southern Russia in 1776 into a simple family of nomad Kalmyks. At the age of six, the boy in one of the military campaigns was captured by the Don Cossacks and brought to Moscow with a baggage train. Here he was baptized and given an Orthodox name, and also assigned to study in an orphanage, where teachers quickly discerned that the child had great drawing abilities. In the same year, little Alexei was sent to St. Petersburg to study at a school at the Imperial Academy of Arts, where his mentor was the famous professor Ivan Akimov. For 15 years of study, Egorov was repeatedly encouraged with high awards for outstanding results, and immediately after graduation he was offered the position of a teacher of drawing.

Alexey Egorov. The Mother of God with the Child Christ and John the Baptist
The Mother of God with the Child Christ and John the Baptist

In 1803, Alexei Egorov, on behalf of the leadership of the Academy, went to Rome to study the work of European painting masters. In the capital of Italy, he met and made friends with local artists Vincenzo Camuccini and Antonio Canova, who highly appreciated the creative style and color of the young author’s works. Pope Pius VII even offered Yegorov the post of official artist of the Holy See, but he categorically refused and returned to Russia in 1807. In St. Petersburg, Alexei’s career quickly went up, he received the title of academician, the position of professor and the high rank of collegiate counselor. In addition, for many years Egorov taught drawing to the wife of the Russian autocrat. Elizaveta Alekseevna, which earned him the special favor of the royal family and personally of Emperor Alexander I.

Alexey Egorov. Apostle Andrew the First-Called
Apostle Andrew the First-Called

Paintings of religious themes

Alexey Egorov was a true Orthodox Christian and devoted most of his creative career to creating paintings of religious themes. He was much cooler about painting portraits, often refusing influential customers. But nevertheless, several excellent works of the portrait genre belong to the brushes of the outstanding master.

Another passion of Yegorov was the training of young artists. According to numerous testimonies of contemporaries, Alexei Yegorovich was very much loved by students for his calm manner of teaching, although the talented painter was very cruel to his household. Egorov was married to the daughter of the Russian sculptor Ivan Martos, the author of the famous monuments to Duke Richelieu in Odessa and Minin and Pozharsky in Moscow.

In family life, Yegorov was a typical adherent of the traditional Russian house building. He refused to give his three daughters an education, motivating his decision by the fact that it is completely unnecessary for marriage and raising children. But the only son of the master later also became a famous artist.

The head of a youth. Portrait of V.P. Sukhanov
The head of a youth. Portrait of V.P. Sukhanov

icon painting

In 1840, an event happened that radically changed the life of Aleksey Yegorov the icon painted by the artist for the Tsarskoye Selo Cathedral was categorically disliked by Emperor Nicholas I. The almighty Russian ruler ordered not only to remove this work from the repository. But also to send the honored academician into retirement. Moreover, the cost of paying for the order for painting the ill-fated icon was withheld from the pension assigned to the master.

The last years of his life, Yegorov had to live with his family. Only beloved students periodically visited their mentor. Every year the painter became more and more withdrawn, but continued to work on paintings until his death. And on September 10 (22), 1851, Alexei Egorov forever departed into eternity in his home in St. Petersburg. His body was interred at the Smolensk cemetery, but 80 years later the master’s remains were reburied at one of the necropolises of the Holy Trinity Lavra.

Rest on the flight to Egypt
Rest on the flight to Egypt
The most famous paintings by Alexei Egorov

Among the large number of works of the great Russian painter, there are many worthy masterpieces. And yet, among the most famous paintings by Alexei Egorov are rightfully:

  • “Entombment” (1807) is a work for which the 30-year-old author was awarded the high title of Academician of Fine Arts. The young artist managed not only to reliably portray the figures of the characters, but to convey to the audience the deep drama of the biblical plot.
  • “The Torture of the Savior” (1814) is a work that for several decades has been recognized by the author’s colleagues as ideally written in terms of depicting the anatomy of the human body. This picture finally consolidated the fame of the great master of historical painting for the artist.
  • “Saint Simeon the God-Receiver” (1840) is the most famous artistic depiction of the events of the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in Orthodox Christianity. An experienced master skillfully depicted the moment of the miraculous meeting of the saint with the infant Christ and the Mother of God in the temple.
  • The Holy Family (1850) is one of the artist’s last works, written shortly before his death. The detached faces of the characters in the picture induce the viewer to think about the boundlessness of true faith.
The Appearance of Christ to Mary Magdalene
The Appearance of Christ to Mary Magdalene

Alexey Egorov devoted most of his life to his beloved art and achieved wide recognition among the public. The great master of painting has always remained for many Russian artists an excellent mentor. And for grateful descendants a unique master of the religious genre.