Boris Kustodiev Galleries
The Russian Revolution of 1905, which shook the foundations of society, evoked a vivid response in the artist's soul. He contributed to the satirical journals Zhupel (Bugbear) and Adskaya Pochta (Hell??s Mail). At that time, he first met the artists of Mir Iskusstva (World of Art), a group of innovative Russian artists. He joined their association in 1910 and subsequently took part in all their exhibitions.
In 1905, Kustodiev first turned to book illustrating, a genre in which he worked throughout his entire life. He illustrated many works of classical Russian literature, including Nikolai Gogol's Dead Souls, The Carriage, and The Overcoat; Mikhail Lermontov's The Lay of Tsar Ivan Vasilyevich, His Young Oprichnik and the Stouthearted Merchant Kalashnikov; and Leo Tolstoy's How the Devil Stole the Peasants Hunk of Bread and The Candle.
In 1909, he was elected into Imperial Academy of Arts. He continued to work intensively, but a grave illness??tuberculosis of the spine??required urgent attention. On the advice of his doctors he went to Switzerland, where he spent a year undergoing treatment in a private clinic. He pined for his distant homeland, and Russian themes continued to provide the basic material for the works he painted during that year. In 1918, he painted The Merchant's Wife, which became the most famous of his paintings.
The Merchant's Wife, (1918).In 1916, he became paraplegic. "Now my whole world is my room", he wrote. His ability to remain joyful and lively despite his paralysis amazed others. His colourful paintings and joyful genre pieces do not reveal his physical suffering, and on the contrary give the impression of a carefree and cheerful life. His Pancake Tuesday/Maslenitsa (1916) and Fontanka (1916) are all painted from his memories. He meticulously restores his own childhood in the busy city on the Volga banks.
In the first years after the Russian Revolution of 1917 the artist worked with great inspiration in various fields. Contemporary themes became the basis for his work, being embodied in drawings for calendars and book covers, and in illustrations and sketches of street decorations. His covers for the journals The Red Cornfield and Red Panorama attracted attention because of their vividness and the sharpness of their subject matter. Kustodiev also worked in lithography, illustrating works by Nekrasov. His illustrations for Leskov's stories The Darner and Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District were landmarks in the history of Russian book designing, so well did they correspond to the literary images.
Portrait of Julia Kustodieva
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 139 x 133.5 cm (54.7 x 52.6 in)