Tropinin, Vasilii

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Tropinin, Vasilii Andreevich


Born Mar. 19 (30), 1776, in the village of Karpovo, Novgorod Province; died May 3 (15), 1857, in Moscow. Russian portrait painter; serf until 1823.

Around 1798, Tropinin began his artistic training under S. S. Shchukin at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. In 1804 he was recalled by his master. Beginning in 1821 he lived exclusively in Moscow; before that, he lived both in the Ukraine and Moscow.

Tropinin painted uninhibited, true-to-life portraits, often enriched by the depiction of everyday details. Even his early works are distinguished by genuine feeling and a restrained palette of soft grays (Portrait of the Artist’s Wife, 1809; Portrait of the Artist’s Son, 1818; and portrait studies of I. I. Morkov and N. I. Morkova (1813)—all in the Tret’iakov Gallery, Moscow).

During Tropinin’s mature period—from 1820 to roughly 1835-the intimacy and occasional vagueness of form that characterized the artist’s earlier works were replaced by energetic and keen characterization, by sculptural delineation of form, and by a rich palette. The artist often used a broad expressive brushstroke and effective colored shadows. Works from this period include portraits of P. A. Bulakhov (1823, Tret’iakov Gallery), K. G. Ravich (1825, Tret’iakov Gallery), and A. S. Pushkin (1827, A. S. Pushkin All-Union Museum, Pushkin, Leningrad Oblast).

Tropinin’s portraits from the 1830’s and 1840’s are marked by greater emphasis of genre elements, greater complexity of composition, and elevation of the role of details. These new features enabled the artist to paint faithful portraits of his contemporaries (Portrait of V. A. Zubova, 1834, Tret’iakov Gallery). A romantic tendency, not characteristic of Tropinin’s works as a whole, appeared in a number of the artist’s works from this period (Portrait ofK. P. Briullov, 1836, Tret’iakov Gallery).

Tropinin did a series of portrait studies of Ukrainian peasants and created a type of semi-portrait genre portrayal of the common man, a portrayal that was often idealized and sentimental but nonetheless marked by sincerity and warmth of feeling (The Lacemaker, 1823, Tret’iakov Gallery).

Tropinin’s art played an important role in the development of Russian democratic art of the 19th century and, in particular, in the formulation of the Moscow artistic tradition. In 1969 a museum housing works by Tropinin and artists of his time was opened in Moscow; the Ostankino Palace-Museum of Serf Art is a branch of the museum.


Amshinskaia, A. V. A. Tropinin: 1776–1857.
Moscow, 1970. Muzei V. A. Tropinina i moskovskikh khudozhnikov ego vremeni (catalog). Moscow, 1975.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.