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Russian Landscape Painter Isaak Levitan (1860-1900)

Moon at Twilight 1899

Birch Grove 1889

Levitan was born into a poor Jewish family in a small town in Lithuania. In 1860s his family moved to Moscow where the 13 y.o. Isaak enrolled into the Moscow College of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, and studied under the famous Russian painters Polenov and Savrasov. Elected in 1897 to the Imperial Academy of Arts, in 1898 he was already the head of the Landscape Studio at his alma mater.

Lilies 1895

The artist painted mostly landscapes which were later recognized to be among the finest masterpieces of Russian art. Levitan never looked for exotic and pretentious subjects for his paintings but remained faithful to simple poetic motifs of his native land. The natural simplicity of motif and composition of Levitan's landscapes is a hallmark of his artistic genius. It was evident from the very outset of Levitan's career that he had an extraordinary ability to awaken deep human feelings by the means of landscape painting. (artsstudio.com)

Golden Plyos 1889

Although the artist was already famous and his canvases were in great demand among collectors such as Pavel Tretyakov, the founder of the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, Levitan didn't have his own home and lived in hotels or stayed at his friends.

Since his youth the artist suffered from mood swings and depression, Levitan shot himself twice, unsuccessfully. After a phase of depression, he would become overjoyed and extremely amorous and irresistible to women. His crushes would develop passionately, in full view, entertaining the public. Anywhere he could get down on his knees in front of a lady, compromising her in the public eye. Once he was challenged to a duel during a symphony concert due to his unruly courtship.

By the Whirlpool 1892

Levitan had also a difficult to cure heart disease. After suffering a typhoid fever in 1896 the painter's health deteriorated gravely, the treatment in Switzerland didn't help.
The artist kept thinking about approaching death. And he worked tirelessly. He painter over 1000 canvases during his lifetime.

Autumn day, Sokolniki

One of his closest friends was Anton Chekhov, the Russian short-story writer and playwright. They met while both were young and maintained their friendship all their lives until Chekhov published a short story "The Grasshopper" in 1882, in which the writer allegedly pictured the relationship between Isaac Levitan, his student Sophia Kuvshynnykova and her husband Dr. Dmitry Kuvshinnikov. They stopped communicating and saw each other 7 years later, when both were sick and aloof.

After Levitan died, Sergei Diaghilev, the Chief Editor of the magazine "World of Art" asked Chekhov to write something about Levitan.
Chekhov refused.

Autumn 1897

Quiet Abode 1890

Evening Shadows

Sheaves and Village Beyond the River 1880

Train on its Journey

Overgrown Pond 1887

Overgrown Pond 1882

Evening Church Bells 1892

Golden Autumn 1895


The Watermill

Birches in the Forest

Little Pond

Autumn. Birches

Spring in the Forest 1882

Above the Eternal Peace, 1894

In the Crimean Mountains, 1886

Boulevard in the Evening

Evening. White Lilac 1890s

Footpath in Forest. Ferns 1895

Meadow on the Edge of the Forest 1898 pastel

In Park 1880

Ferns in the Forest

River in the Forest. Autumn

Birch Grove

Spring. High Water 1897

Forest in Winter

Forest Clearing

Bird-Cherry Tree 1880s

Autumn. The Hunter 1880

Fog, Autumn, pastel

The Illumination of the Kremlin

Oak Tree 1880

Rainy Evening


  1. I included your blog address in my lasting posting so readers could see more of Levitan's work plus learn more about him. Thanks for such an amazing variety of his paintings and interesting background information. I look forward to looking through other sections of her blog soon.

  2. absolutely gorgeous

  3. Thanks for such an amazing variety of his paintings and interesting background information. Good article. Thx.


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