Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Shishkin, Ivan Ivanovich


Born Jan. 13 (25), 1832, in El-abuga, in what is now Tatar ASSR; died Mar. 8 (20), 1898, in St. Petersburg. Russian painter; one of the most outstanding masters of realistic landscape painting.

Shishkin studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture from 1852 to 1856 under A. N. Mokritskii and at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts from 1856 to 1865 under S. M. Vorob’ev. From 1862 to 1865 he received a stipend to study at the academies of arts in Munich, Prague, and Düsseldorf. In 1865 he became an academician of the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts where he served as a professor from 1873 and director of the landscape studio in 1894 and 1895. Shishkin was a founding member of the peredvizhniki (the Society of Wandering Art Exhibitions).

At the beginning of his career, Shishkin worked in the traditional manner of romantic landscape painting common in the mid-19th century, for example, View of Valaam Island (1858, Kiev Museum of Russian Art). In the 1860’s he transcended the conventions of color and light effects and turned to what might be considered a more objective representation of Russian forest landscape, which was to be the main theme of his works. Shishkin strove for an accurate rendering of the endless variety of forms in the plant world. He abandoned the descriptive and elaborate style evident in Forest Felling (1867, Tret’iakov Gallery, Moscow) and created truly integral images of Russian nature, revealing through composition the majestic beauty of his native land and the unique quality of its forests and fields. Prominent examples include Rye (1878) and Expanses of the Forests (1884), both of which are housed in the Tret’iakov Gallery.

Continually working on studies from nature, Shishkin perfected the use of chiaroscuro effects and achieved unity of painting style and tonality. In several works he depicted the changing moods of nature, as in Sunlit Pines (1886, Tret’iakov Gallery). He revealed typically expressive and poetic features of the Russian land, introducing elements of genre painting in such works as Morning in a Pine Forest (1889, bears painted by K. A. Savitskii, Tret’iakov Gallery), and Oak Grove (1887, Kiev Museum of Russian Art).

Shishkin’s vital, monumental images of his native land reflect the democratic concepts common to the historical paintings, scenes of everyday life, and portraits of the peredvizhniki. His best works generalize and glorify the heroic character of Russian nature, for example, Ship-timber Grove (1898, Russian Museum, Leningrad).

Studying nature intently, Shishkin devoted a great deal of attention to the graphic arts. His etchings, which are similar to his paintings in content and style, furthered the rebirth of the genre in Russia. His realistic landscapes, which became widely popular, were important in the struggle to establish the national Russian character in the arts, a major trend in the cultural life of the 1870’s to 1890’s.


Pikulev, I. I. I. I. Shishkin. Moscow, 1955.
Risunki I. I. Shishkina. [Album.] Text by A. N. Savinov. Moscow, 1960.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.