Isaac Ilyich Levitan, the great Russian artist, was one of the first painters of the Russian scenery to reveal its beauty. He is a real poet of the Russian countryside. Levitan developed the traditions of painters of the Russian realistic landscape school – Savrasov, Polenov, Serov and others. He found poetry in what would seem daily life.
Levitan is a very special sort of painter. There is something in his landscapes that reflects our own moods. He deeply felt what he wanted to depict, and his brush transferred his feelings to the canvas.
A master of landscape, he never introduced figures into it. Though if you look at “The Autumn Day in Sokolniki”, everything seems to bring out the loneliness of the figure in the centre: the trees losing their leaves, the remote, indifferent sky, the path going off into the distance. But the fact is that it was not Levitan who painted the figure. It was Chekhov’s brother Nikolai who did it.
Levitan’s art was greatly influenced by his travels along the Volga. He chose Plyoss, a small provincial town on the Volga, for his place of residence and for a subject of many of his canvases. His painting like “Evening”, “Golden Plyoss”, “After the Rain” depict the scenery of the place. They are full of subtle feeling and tenderness, but there is no sentimentality in them; Levitan’s pictures are truly realistic.
In the closing years of his life Levitan made several journeys abroad. He travelled to France, Italy and Germany where he painted many of his landscapes. Levitan was only 49 when he died in 1900.
Levitan’s influence over lyrical landscape painters can’t be overestimated. His deep feeling for nature, love for his native land, his ability to reveal the poetry of the Russian countryside have won his paintings the love and gratitude of people.