Painting

Snowy Russian Winter in Konstantin Korovin’s Eyes

Magda Michalska 29 January 2021 min Read

If one thinks of winter in Russia, one usually imagines loads of snow, fur hats, and hip flasks filled with some warming drink. What was winter like to one of the most famous Russian Impressionists, Konstantin Korovin?

Konstantin Korovin, Winter in Lapland, 1894, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia
Konstantin Korovin, Winter in Lapland, 1894, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.

Konstantin Korovin (1861–1939) was born into a well-off family of merchants. He was 14 when he began attending Moscow’s School of Painting and Architecture in 1875. He started out as a student of architecture, but a year later changed to painting.

Konstantin Korovin, Winter, 1911, State Russian Museum, Sankt Petersburg, winter in konstanti korovin
Konstantin Korovin, Winter, 1911, State Russian Museum, St.Petersburg, Russia.

Travels

In 1894, Korovin made a trip to Finland, Sweden, and northern Russia. He travelled with his painter friend Valentin Sorov. However, as well as being friends, the two competed with each other. During this trip Korovin discovered, with surprise, that in the North there was a large variety of color. In fact, more than anywhere else he had ever been. Inspired by this, he designed the Far North pavilion for the All Russia Exhibition in Nizhny Novgorod in 1896. This was not his only design for an Expo pavilion. In 1900 he represented the Central Asia section of the Russian Empire pavilion at the great Paris World Fair.

Konstantin Korovin, Moonlit Night. Winter, 1913, Tretyakov Gallery, winter in konstantin korovin
Konstantin Korovin, Moonlit Night – Winter, 1913, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.

At the turn of the century, Korovin turned his attention to set and costume design for the theatre. Yet, he continued to paint. In fact, between 1909 and 1913 he was a professor at his alma mater, the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture.

Konstntin Korovin, Old Moscow, 1913, M. S. Туганова Museum, Vladikavkaz, winter in konstantin korovin
Konstantin Korovin, Old Moscow, 1913, Khudozhestvennyy Muzey Im. Makharbeka Tuganova, Vladikavkaz, Russia.

In 1923, on the advice of his friend, Korovin moved to Paris, which he loved. This was both to cure his heart condition and to help his son Alexey Korovin. Alexey was also a painter. Sadly, both of his feet had been amputated due to a childhood illness. When in Paris, Korovin was meant to hold a large exhibition. However, somebody stole all the paintings and as a result  Korovin found himself penniless. In order to make ends meet, for years he had to paint the same Russian Winters repeatedly.

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