Maxim Vorobiev – artist and teacher, the father of Russian landscape painting
Maxim Nikiforovich Vorobiev was born on August 17, 1787 – died on September 11, 1855. An outstanding Russian artist and teacher of the 19th century, who brought up a whole galaxy of talents. Maxim Vorobyov’s paintings are a unique opportunity to see the look of Russian cities at that time: the master worked in an era when photography had not yet been invented. Views of Northern Palmyra occupy a special place in the painter’s work, and his “eastern series” opened the theme of orientalism in Russian art. The biography of Maxim Vorobyov is inextricably linked with the Imperial Academy of Arts.
Maxim Nikiforovich Vorobyov was born on August 17, 1787 in Pskov. Childhood spent in an ancient Russian city, near the Velikaya River, formed a close connection with his native land. In 1796 the family moved to St. Petersburg.
Maxim Vorobiev studied the art of painting at the Academy of Arts: he was enrolled in the architecture and landscape class at the age of 10. The mentors of the young talent were Jean-François Thomas de Thomon, Fedor Yakovlevich Alekseev and Mikhail Matveyevich Ivanov. Maxim’s father, a retired officer, also served at the Academy.
In 1809, Vorobyov received a 1st degree certificate. He was appointed assistant to Fyodor Alekseev, who painted views of historical places in the very heart of Russia. The artists had the idea to “revive” the streets by including episodes of the emperor’s visits to cities in the composition, and this idea was brilliantly realized. Together with Alekseev, Maxim Nikiforovich traveled a lot, admired the special color and atmosphere of small villages, collected material.
In 1812 he worked on oil sketches in Nikolskoye. It was there that the famous painting “Cleaning the Hay” was created, in which the individual style is already noticeable – the most interesting interweaving of academicism and romanticism.
The beginning of the Patriotic War of 1812 prompted the young man to return to the northern capital. For the painting dedicated to the solemn divine service on the occasion of the victory over Bonaparte, in 1814 he was awarded the title of academician. Since 1815, Maxim Vorobyov began to teach perspective, architecture and watercolor techniques at the alma mater.
The undoubted talent of the painter was noticed by the emperor. In 1817, Alexander I summoned him to Moscow. Using his sketches and pencil sketches, the artist later created a series of panoramic views of the Moscow Kremlin.
In 1820, Maxim Vorobyov, on the instructions of the government, went to the Middle East. He works tirelessly, sketching crowded eastern cities and everyday scenes, and paints portraits. Magical southern nights, endless expanses of the seas inspired the master for the first night and sea landscapes. In them, he revealed himself as a talented colorist who was ahead of his time.
But the meaning of the journey for the artist was the Holy Land. Maxim Vorobyov, despite the vigilance of the Muslim authorities, managed to get the plan of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. He bowed to the ground and imperceptibly measured everything around with a pocket yardstick, made sketches, counted lamps and icons. From the trip, the painter brought home a huge number of sketches.
The time has come for creative flowering. The works created after returning home brought the artist success and public recognition. Orders poured in as if from a cornucopia; the author repeatedly made copies of many of his paintings. In 1823 Maxim Vorobyov received the title of professor.
The death of his beloved wife in 1840 split the life of the master into “before” and “after”. He fell into severe depression, became addicted to alcohol. Creative activity has practically disappeared.
Maxim Nikiforovich made his second foreign voyage in his declining years. In 1845-1846. he visited Europe. New travel albums were filled with sketches and sketches … The artist devoted the last years of his life to the embodiment of the views of Rome, Naples and Sicily in paintings.
The painter died on September 11, 1855. He was buried at the Smolensk Orthodox cemetery next to his wife. The only son of Maxim Vorobieya, Socrates, became a famous landscape painter and engraver; like his father, he taught at the Academy of Arts.
The most famous paintings by Maxim Nikiforovich Vorobyov
Stunning lighting effects, excellent knowledge of perspective, masterly mastery of glaze technique – these are the main components of the master’s success in creating true masterpieces. Among the most famous paintings by Maxim Vorobyov:
- “View of Jerusalem” (1821) – muted colors, a soft silvery-blue tint of the sky and smooth color transitions give the holy city a special poetry.
- “Moonlit Night in St. Petersburg” (1839) – the ghostly moonlight reflected by the water surface, makes you look differently at the familiar landscape, paints it in magical tones.
- “Oak Shattered by Lightning” (1842) – a tragic, emotional work captured a moment that once and for all destroyed fate. The rare allegorical landscape for that time conveys the artist’s despair after the death of his wife.
- “Lighthouse in Palermo” (1847) – the author skillfully played out the contrast of cool night light and lively bright fire lit by a human hand.
Maxim Vorobyov is rightfully considered the “father of Russian landscape painting”. He will forever remain in history not only as an artist, but also as a brilliant teacher who knows how to nurture talents. The long list of the master’s students includes Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin, Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky, Grigory Grigorievich and Nikanor Grigorievich Chernetsov, Mikhail Ivanovich Lebedev, Lev Feliksovich Lagorio, Mikhail Konstantinovich Klodt, Alexey Petrovich Bogolyubov and others.