Iakobi, Valerii Ivanovich
(also V. I. Iakobii). Born May 3 (15), 1834, in the village of Kudriakovo, in what is now the Tatar ASSR; died May 13, 1902, in Nice. Russian painter. Brother of P. I. Iakobi.
V. I. Iakobi studied with A. T. Markov at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts from 1856 to 1861; under the academy’s sponsorship he continued his studies at a boarding school in Western Europe from 1861 to 1869. A teacher at the academy from 1878 to 1889, Iakobi became an academician in 1868 and a professor in 1871. He was a founder of the Society of Wandering Art Exhibitions, whose members were known as the peredvizhniki (literally, “wanderers”), but was expelled from the group in 1872.
In his early period Iakobi produced a series of genre paintings whose subjects were typical Russian folk characters. A notable portrait from this period is The Fruit Peddler (1858, Tret’iakov Gallery, Moscow). Iakobi’s most important work is Halt of the Prisoners (1861, Tret’iakov Gallery, Moscow). Accusatory in spirit, it was the first Russian painting to deal with hard labor and exile and with the harsh treatment accorded the progressive Russian intelligentsia during the tsarist era.
Beginning in the second half of the 1870’s, Iakobi devoted himself primarily to historical subjects. The paintings produced in this period deal mainly with Russian history. Although generally executed in a superficial style, they are sometimes characterized by an appealing manner. A notable example is The Court Jesters of Empress Anna Ivanovna (1872, Tret’iakov Gallery, Moscow).