Michail Nesterov - portraitMay 19, 1862 the town of Ufa - October 18, 1942, Moscow

 He was born in Ufa on May 19 (31), 1862 in the merchant family.


 He received the higher artistic education in the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1877-1881 and 1884-1886), where his tutors were V. G. Perov, .. Savrasov, I. M. Pryanishnikov; he either studied in the Academy of Arts (1881-1884), where his teacher was P.P. Chistyakov. He lived mostly in Moscow, but he spent his most productive years (1890-1910) in Kiev. He visited the Western Europe some times, including France and Italy, he worked much in the Moscow region (Abramtsevo, the Troitse-Serguieva Lavra and their suburbs).  He was the member of the "Itinerants Society".

  If his early historical pictures are still narrative and life descriptive as it is characterized by the "Itinerants Society" school, later, as if inheriting Victor  Vasnetsov, he intensified folk features in his images ("To pick up the love potion ", 1888), the atmosphere of the religious legends ("The stylite", 1888-1889). Under the influence of painting of the French symbolism (P. Puvis de Chavaes, and particularly J. Bastien Lepage), Nesterov accents idyllic and intimate unanimity between his protagonists and the surrounding nature. Such as the famous "The Vision to the youth Bartholomew" (the future Serguiy Radonyezhskiy; 1889-1890), which has been drawn near Abramtsevo, a picture where figures and the typical landscape of the Central Russia are full of feeling of marvelous things. Since that time the artist has been working in the field of religious monumental ornamental creation: painting (fresco) of the Saint Vladimir Cathedral in Kiev (1890-1895), where Nesterov was the direct continuator of Vasnetsov; mosaic and icons of the Church of the Savior in the blood in Petersburg (1894-1897), painting of the Temple of Aleksander Nevsky in Abastuman (1902-1904), of the Pokrovski Convent of Martha and Mary in Moscow (1908-1911). Here the tradition of the "church modern" has been consolidated, filling religious canonical church plots with deep lyricism.


At the end of 1890 Nesterov started to paint the Saint Vladimir Cathedral in Kiev and worked there almost without break till 1894.


He was only 23 when he appeared in the temple. He was the youngest artist among artists of the Cathedral.

By the way, either as Vrubel, Nesterov was so fascinated by Emiliya Prakhova that he draws from her face the image of the Saint Barbara, bending her head captivatingly waiting a cut with a sword. 

Nesterov was a friend of the Vasnetsovs family, he knew well children of the painter. He wrote one day that "Misha, his favorite, is met in all pictures by Victor Mikhailovich in all seraphims and cherubims". The features of Misha, the future priest, are seen clearly in the face of the Infant Christ.


Four iconostasis of the lower and upper limits (in total 16 figures), two altar wall images and also "Baptism of the Christ" in the delubrum (baptisterium) belong to the artist. If Vasnetsov depicted the active belief, the saint ability, Nesterov managed to depict the belief gentle, passive, unconscious, similar to a smoldering icon-lamp with astonishing honesty. These words belong to the writer Vladimir Dedlov, who observed the work of artists painting the Cathedral for 10 years.


Four years of the Saint Vladimir Cathedral painting were difficult for Nesterov.
"The artist was put into the conditions which were unusual for him: he had to draw the saints with dilated eyes in the enormous surfaces of the church walls, to which he did not get used. The splendid Russian and Byzantine style through him off. And in spite of this, there, in this splendid and magnificent Cathedral there were modest and solitary nook, in which humble and sad creatures by Nesterov have been sheltered: there is a miniature Gospel, the icons of the Saint Barbara, Boris and Glebe in the little lateral iconostasis of the lower and upper floors, where this deep and sweet saint feeling of self-abuse has been burning. The mother giving birth to an infant for the unheard sorrow, mother, whose heart has been impaled with the sword of grief and warmed with the light pleasure of birth, she is full of heavenly fascination in the images by Nesterov.... And martyrs giving their flesh to worry, enjoying delightfully the beauty of pain and crucifying, opening themselves to the death in the providence and eternal nearness to the God, - these images are unforgettable".


Mstislav Formakovskiy expreses his opinion in respect of this debut works by Nesterov.
Rendering tribute to Nesterov, the contemporaries referred to him critically, considering that he had less talent than Vasnetsov does. The famous journalist and art critic V. Dedlov in his book "Artistic creators of the Saint Vladimir Cathedral" noted similarity and frequence of the images, a certain sketchiness and idyllic of the painting. It is possible to note frequent repetition of the scheme and character of the painting found in the picture " The Vision to the youth Bartholomew".


Nevertheless, this painting of the Saint Vladimir Cathedral was enough to glorify the name of Nesterov all over the Russian Empire and to guarantee him a lifelong field of operations.


Since that time Nesterov having hardly finished the painting of one temple, set to work for another temple. In 1898 at the initiative by the heir George, Nesterov was invited to the Abastuman Mountains to paint the palace church in the name of Aleksander Nevsky. During 506 years Nesterov by himself performed 50 compositions in the walls and in the iconostasis. Till September 1904 all the works were finished, and the original drawings of the main works were bought for the Museum of Aleksander the III-rd.


After the revolution the artist was at a loss before the squall of events which destroyed the habitual way of life. Till 1922 he did not create any significant works. Without having desire to take part in the performance of the plan of monumental propagation by Lenin, Nesterov left Moscow, and his workshop was destroyed. Years of crisis came for the artist.


But realistic grounds of his creation, feeling of deep connectedness with his Motherland and his people helped him.


Portraits of the brothers P. D. and A. D. Korinykh drawn in the years 30-s - 40-s, the portrait of the Member of the Academy of Science A.N. Severtsov (1934), the sculpture of the I. D. Shadr
(1934), of the Member of the Academy of Science I. P. Pavlov (1935), the self-portrait of the sculptor V. I. Mukhina (1940) pleno jure can be determined as the masterpieces of the universal importance. All of them are in the Tretyakov State Gallery.


The eminent work of Nesterov is the portrait of I.P. Pavlov (1935), the premium by Stalin - 1941). The artist has depicted the great Russian scientist at the moment of the hugh uplift. The internal readiness and the characteristic forceful gesture underline the strength of thought and great assurance of the science. The great skills of Nesterov as portraitist reflected in the ability to find the necessary position, movement, pose which discover the character and the inner world of the personality with the greatest deep and to show it with medium of expression.

 Nesterov M. V. Died on October 18, 1942, he was buried in Moscow, in the Novodevichye cemetery. (the 2-nd section).


Works of artist:
St Kirill (left altar)
St Mefodii
Saint Varvara
St Boris
St Gleb
Santa Maria by Michail Nesterov
St Olga by Mikhail Nesterov
Vision to young Varfolomey by Nesterov