Isaac Ilyich Levitan, the great Russian artist, became the first painter of the Russian scenery, who revealed all its beauty. He is a real poet of the Russian countryside. He continued and developed the traditions of painters of the Russian realistic school — Savrasov, Polenov, Serov. Levitan found significant meaning and poetry in what would seem the most everyday subjects.
He is a very individual sort of painter. You can’t but appreciate his paintings, because there is something in his landscapes that reflects our own moods.
He deeply felt what he wished to express and his brush transferred these feelings to the canvas. It is interesting to note that 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 Checkov’s brother Nicolai who did it.
His travels over the Volga region influenced Levitan’s art, the impression made on him by the great Russian river was unforgettable. For his life and painting he chose Plyoss — a small beautiful town on the Volga. His paintings Evening, Golden Plyoss, After Rain reflect his love for nature.
Last summer I visited Plyoss and saw the places where the great pictures were painted. Many people admire his pictures Deep Waters, Evening Bells, Springtime, The Last Snow and, of course, his famous Golden Autumn. All his paintings are very emotional, lyrical and realistic.
In the closing years of his life Levitan made several journeys abroad to France, Italy and Germany where he painted a number of landscapes, although his best works of the period were devoted to Russia. He was only 40 when he died in 1900.
Levitan’s influence on the painters of lyrical landscapes was great. Levitan’s feeling for nature, his great love for his native land, his ability to reveal and depict the poetry of the Russian land have won his paintings the love and gratitude of people.