Isaac Brodsky – a prominent representative of socialist realism

At the dacha, 1906
At the dacha, 1906

Isaak Izrailevich Brodsky is a Russian and Soviet artist of the first third of the 20th century, one of the main representatives of socialist realism and the author of the most famous portraits of Lenin. Isaac Brodsky’s work is in the mainstream of the traditional realistic direction, which is reflected in his work as the director of the All-Russian Academy of Arts. In the Soviet Union, everyone knew the paintings of this painter, since their reproductions were printed in huge quantities – on posters, in textbooks and calendars.

Museum-apartment of Isaac Brodsky in St. Petersburg. Self-portrait of Isaac Brodsky, 1914
Museum-apartment of Isaac Brodsky in St. Petersburg. Self-portrait of Isaac Brodsky, 1914

Biography

Isaac Brodsky was born on December 25, 1883 in the village of Sofievka near the city of Berdyansk in the territory of modern Ukraine. The boy’s parents were Jews, his father was engaged in agriculture and trade. Isaac received his first education in Berdyansk, then studied at the art school in Odessa. In 1902, as an excellent student, he entered the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts without exams.

Isaac Brodsky became a student of Ilya Repin, with whom he maintained friendly relations for a long time. He borrowed a lot from his teacher – not in technology, but in relation to art and to the artist’s creative tasks. Even during his studies, the young painter gained fame as a portrait painter and as a landscape painter with a special “openwork” style of drawing. Because of his Jewish origin and sympathy for revolutionary events, he was oppressed at the Academy, but some professors stood up for the talented student. With the help of Repin and Arkhip Kuindzhi, he received a scholarship, and then the right to travel abroad.

Winter, 1919-1922
Winter, 1919-1922

The artist lived in Europe for several years: first he visited Germany and France, then stayed for a long time in Spain and Italy. The painting “Fairy Tale” created at that time brought the author an award from the Society for the Encouragement of Arts. With the funds received, he traveled to the island of Capri, where he met and became friends with Maxim Gorky.

Isaac Brodsky embraced the October Revolution of 1917 with enthusiasm.

From that moment on, portraits of Soviet leaders and Bolshevik leaders became one of the main themes in his work. He also created monumental works on a historical and revolutionary theme. The authorities loved and appreciated the artist: he was the first to receive the Order of Lenin, and then the Stalin Prize. When the experiments of the avant-garde artists were rejected, Brodsky headed the All-Russian Academy of Arts. He restored the traditional education system and established the foundations of ideological control in the arts.

Alley of the Summer Garden, 1928
Alley of the Summer Garden, 1928

The artist died on August 14, 1939. He was married twice and had two children in his first marriage. After the collapse of the USSR, his work began to be forgotten, but now interest is returning. Isaac Brodsky is appreciated not only as a talented painter, but also as an enthusiastic collector. During his life, he collected about a thousand works of the best Russian masters, starting with the works of Ilya Repin received during his student years.

Winter, 1910
Winter, 1910

The most famous paintings by Isaac Brodsky

Isaac Brodsky’s paintings are distinguished by their expressive drawing and realism. The early works are usually bright and colorful, the later ones with a more restrained flavor. Here are some of the author’s most famous works:

  1. Winter (1922). Among Brodsky’s landscapes, there are winter views with a multifaceted composition. The artist himself found in them “Bruegel motives”, and modern researchers note the continuation of the Shishkin and Levitan traditions.
  2. “Inauguration of the II Congress of the Comintern at the Uritsky Palace in Leningrad” (1924). A grandiose work with a complex composition, depicting about 600 real historical figures. Many of them were shot during the years of Stalin’s repressions, and the painting was banned for a long time.
  3. “Speech by V. I. Lenin at the Putilov factory” (1929). Isaac Brodsky’s traditional work, revealing the connection between the leader and the people. The painting won the main prize at the World Exhibition in Paris.
  4. “IN. I. Lenin in Smolny “(1930). A canonical portrait of Lenin with a detailed setting that creates a sense of documentary and authenticity of the image.
  5. “Park Alley” (1930). And in his later work, the author continues to turn to the genre of the lyrical landscape. This work is part of a large cycle of filigree paintings depicting views of city parks.
Paintings
Winter landscape with a house and a dog, 1910s
Winter landscape with a house and a dog, 1910s
Autumn has come
Autumn has come
Autumn, 1912
Autumn, 1912
Fairy tale, 1911
Fairy tale, 1911
Fallen leaves, 1915
Fallen leaves, 1915
Fireworks, 1912
Fireworks, 1912
Golden Autumn, 1913
Golden Autumn, 1913
Ice drift in Pskov, 1913
Ice drift in Pskov, 1913
Isaak Izrailevich Brodsky. Fireworks, 1912
Isaak Izrailevich Brodsky. Fireworks, 1912
Isaak Izrailevich Brodsky. Portrait of E. Samuelson, 1916
Isaak Izrailevich Brodsky. Portrait of E. Samuelson, 1916
Isaak Izrailevich Brodsky. Portrait of the wife of Lyubov Makarovna Brodskaya, 1913
Isaak Izrailevich Brodsky. Portrait of the wife of Lyubov Makarovna Brodskaya, 1913
Isaak Izrailevich Brodsky. Portrait of Z.S. Shtilman, 1916
Isaak Izrailevich Brodsky. Portrait of Z.S. Shtilman, 1916
Italy
Italy
Last summer residents
Last summer residents
Late Autumn, 1907
Late Autumn, 1907
Park Alley, 1912
Park Alley, 1912
Portrait of M.F. Andreeva, 1910
Portrait of M.F. Andreeva, 1910
Pskov. Willows, 1913
Pskov. Willows, 1913
Scenery. Lake
Scenery. Lake
Self-portrait with daughter, 1911
Self-portrait with daughter, 1911
Isaac Brodsky, Spring, 1914
Spring, 1914
Isaac Brodsky, Thaw, 1910
Thaw, 1910
Isaac Brodsky, Through the branches, 1907
Through the branches, 1907
Isaac Brodsky, Towards spring, 1906
Towards spring, 1906
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