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Russian Winter in Konstantin Korovin’s Eyes

Konstantin Alekseevich Korovin, Winter landscape, c. 1876, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Seasons

Russian Winter in Konstantin Korovin’s Eyes

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 (1861–1939)?

Konstantin Korovin, Winter in Lapland, 1894, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia, winter in konstantin korovin

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

Korovin 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, first as a student of architecture, but a year later he changed to painting.

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

Konstantin Korovin, Winter, 1911, State Russian Museum, Sankt Petersburg

In 1894, Korovin made a trip to Finland, Sweden and northern Russia together with his painter friend Valentin Sorov (but at the same time they competed with each other), during which Korovin discovered that surprisingly in the North there was more variety of color than anywhere else he had ever been. Inspired by his trip, in 1896 he designed the Far North pavilion for the All Russia Exhibition in Nizhny Novgorod. It was not his only design for an Expo pavilion, since 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


With the turn of the century, Korovin turned his attention to set and costume design for theatre. Yet, he continued to paint and 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, M. S. Туганова Museum, Vladikavkaz

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

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Magda, art historian and Italianist, she writes about art because she cannot make it herself. She loves committed and political artists like Ai Weiwei or the Futurists; like Joseph Beuys she believes that art can change us and we can change the world.

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