Isaac Ilyich Levitan (1860-1900)
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Isaac Levitan is a well-known Russian landscape painter. Levitan escalated the genre of the “mood landscape”. Levitan was born in the Kaunsas region of Lithuania to a Jewish family. Levitan’s father was a rabbi and translator for railway company. In 1870 Levitan’s family relocated to Moscow, Russia.
Levitan followed in his brother’s footsteps, attending the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. As a student, Levitan was fortunate enough to study under great names in Russian art, including, Alexei Savrasov, Vasily Perov and Vasily Polenov. Levitan took a number of foundation courses before finding his talent at landscape painting. After the death of his parents in 1875 and 1879, Levitan lost funding for his education. As a reward for Levitan’s exemplary work, he was awarded a full scholarship to complete his studies.
Levitan exhibited for the first time in 1877, gaining attention from the Moscow press. Levitan’s family was urged to leave the city for brief amount of time in 1879, as hostility towards Jews began to mount. When Levitan returned a year later, he sold his first painting.
By 1891, Levitan joined a group of artists, known as the Peredvizhniki partnership, participating in group exhibitions around Russia. Levitan associated with former classmates, Konstantin Korovin, Mikhail Nesterov, Fyodor Shekhtel and Nikolai Chekhov, who also received noticeable attention for their strong work. Levitan often collaborated with his friends to illustrate publications or design opera sets.
Levitan is best known for his depictions of the Russian landscape, painting rural settings, and emotion-filled skies. While Levitan did not paint urban scenes, he often painted in the outskirts of Moscow.
By 1897, Levitan’s reputation not only spread nationally, but around the world. Levitan was appointed to a position at the Imperial Academy of Arts in Russia, and headed the Landscape Studio at his former University in Moscow. Levitan’s work is continuously admired in his home country of Russia and around the world. Do you think you own a painting by Isaac Levitan? Contact us. We are the experts on Isaac Levitan.