Isaac Levitan (1860-1900) was one of Russia’s finest landscape artists of the nineteenth century. His paintings made a significant contribution to the advancement of the genre of "mood landscape". Levitan’s beautiful collection includes works inspired by the Russian landscape as well as those made in various parts of Europe and America. Hang up your Isaac Levitan canvas art in any interior for a distinctive touch of sophistication or give it as a thoughtful gift to someone you know who loves art, only at The Canvas Art Factory.
Isaac Levitan was born in Kibarty, Lithuania, in 1860. When he was ten, the Levitan family relocated to Moscow, with his father attaining work at the railroad, in a promise for better fortune. Life in the city opened doors of opportunity for Levitan, who would go on to study art under Russia’s most famous painters. Despite being unable to pay the tuition fee, Levitan studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in 1873 on the strength of his artmaking skills. Following his parents’ death, Levitan fell into extreme poverty and became homeless. For safe housing, he would stay in the homes of friends and relatives.
Levitan was associated with the Peredvizhniki group, as was another Russian landscape artist Ivan Shishkin. A skilled landscape painter, Levitan taught the art of landscape painting at the esteemed Moscow College of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture from 1898. Landscape painting became a popular subject in Russia by the nineteenth century. By the 1890s, he became known internationally for artistic talent. Levitan successfully made a living by selling his artworks from the age of eighteen. However, his life was cut short when he died two years later in Moscow at the age of thirty-nine. There aren’t many personal items attributed to Levitan as he had ordered his brother to destroy all his letters and documents.
Isaac Levitan’s skill in artmaking was noticeable from a young age. When the Levitan family moved to Moscow in 1870, Isaac was quick to study art. By 1879 Levitan’s painting Autumn Day. Sokolniki (1879) was bought by the founder of the Tretyakov Gallery. In 1885, Levitan painted The River Istra and gave it to his close friend Anton Chekhov.
While most Russian artists were painting palaces, churches, cityscapes, historical and biblical scenes at the time, Levitan singled out the natural landscape. Common motifs in Levitan’s work are the birch tree, which grew throughout Russia. This can be seen in Birch Grove (1885-89), a painting depicting spring. He enjoyed the Volga River and painted it many times over. Like Ivan Shishkin, Levitan depicted the Russian landscape with pristine skill and eye. However, unlike Shishkin, Levitan left a touch of melancholy to the landscape, while Shishkin created warmth.
One of Levitan’s paintings within The Canvas Art Factory collection is Water Lilies. Painted in 1895, Water Lilies is a beautiful yet melancholic look at nature. The artwork may remind some of the water lilies of the French Impressionist painter Claude Monet, but Levitan left out the impressionism and painted the lily pads realistically.