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10 years of happiness and 28 years of sorrow in the life of the artist Vasily Surikov
10 years of happiness and 28 years of sorrow in the life of the artist Vasily Surikov

The personal life of outstanding people always attracts the attention of readers, especially if it is full of juicy details, incredible stories, secrets and riddles. But today we will talk about personal life. artist Vasily Surikov, about which not so much is known. But the amazing story of his love will not leave anyone indifferent.

Vasily Ivanovich Surikov

A bit of biography

The artist Vasily Ivanovich Surikov is from Krasnoyarsk, his ancestors were from the Don Cossacks who conquered Siberia with Yermak, after whose death they went up the Yenisei and founded the Krasnoyarsk fortresses. The artist was born in 1848 in the family of a clerical employee, who came from the old Yenisei Cossack family. And is it necessary to say that the character of the future painter, formed in the harsh environment of the Siberian region, was just as strong and unshakable. Years later, this power was embodied in the heroic images of his paintings.

Little Vasily got carried away with creativity early, and he often got it from his mother for the painted furniture. The first lessons in painting were received by him at the district school. Later, the governor noticed the talented young man and decided to send him to study at the Academy of Arts in the capital itself.

Vasily and Alexander Surikovs with their mother Praskovya Fedorovna

However, 20-year-old Vasily Surikov, who came from Krasnoyarsk to St. Petersburg to enter the Academy, failed the exams miserably. One of the members of the selection committee, seeing the work of Surikov, said: "Yes, you should even be banned from walking past the Academy for such drawings!" Vasily did not go "Past the Academy" for long - only one year, and then successfully passed the entrance exams and became one of the best students. In 1875, after receiving a certificate, the Council of the Academy of Arts awarded Surikov the title of first class artist, later for his creative work he was awarded a gold medal and the Order of St. Anna, III degree.

The love of an artist's life

Once, when once again Vasily went to a Catholic church to listen to the sound of an organ, he met his first and only love in his life - Elizabeth Share. The girl was from a French-Russian family. Her father, Auguste Chare, in his youth, fell in love with a Russian girl Maria Svistunova, moved from Paris to Russia, converted to Orthodoxy and got married. In their marriage, five children were born: a son and four daughters, who were brought up in the French manner.

Elizabeth Share

Therefore, Lilya (as her relatives called the young lady) spoke Russian with a slight accent. She, like Vasily, was interested in music and painting. The girl was then nineteen years old, and Surikov was twenty-nine. And despite the fact that the young artist was ten years older, during their meetings he blushed and embarrassed like a youth.

After graduating from the Academy of Arts, the aspiring painter received an order for four paintings for the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. For some time, preparing sketches, Surikov worked in St. Petersburg, and then he had to go to Moscow. The lovers faced a long separation. However, on weekends, Vasily raced on the wings of love to Petersburg and, after spending several hours with his beloved, returned back.

The days of separation were agonizing, and the artist's crowded Moscow seemed deserted without his beloved girl. Therefore, after finishing work in the church and receiving a fee, Vasily decides to immediately marry. He proposes and he and Lilya get married.The painter decided not to inform his mother about his marriage, as he probably knew that a sophisticated French daughter-in-law would not be to the liking of a harsh Siberian Cossack woman.

Portrait of the artist's wife. Author: Vasily Surikov

Elizaveta Avgustovna was a good-natured, pleasant to talk to, a very beautiful woman. Like her husband, she avoided social gatherings, feeling uncomfortable in a large company. “Everyone spoke of her as an angel,” daughter Olga later recalled.

After the wedding, the newlyweds settled in Moscow and healed, although poorly, but happily. Surikov went to free bread, he never wrote to order again, but only what his heart ordered. The young wife lived in the interests of her husband, saving him from all household chores and literally creating home comfort out of nothing. And Vasily was immensely happy that his Lily, from a pampered young lady, was turning into a real mistress of the house, learned how to manage and cook. Soon the Surikov couple had two daughters, and the young mother learned, among other things, to sew beautiful dresses for her daughters.

The artist's life was overshadowed by only one circumstance - a congenital heart defect of his wife, who developed rheumatism early, and it was very difficult for her to endure even a simple cold. And Vasily himself almost died of pneumonia in the first year after his marriage. Only thanks to the care of his wife, who did not leave him a single step around the clock, did he survive. The doctors had already lost all hope of his recovery, and only shrugged. Surikov knew that he survived only thanks to his beloved Lilya.

"Menshikov in Berezovo". Author: Vasily Surikov

Barely recovered, the artist set to work. He painted many female images from his wife, calling her an "ideal model". He also created several portraits of her. Still, the main creation can be considered the canvas "Menshikov in Berezovo", where he portrayed his wife in the image of Menshikov's eldest daughter, who, according to the plot, was sick and was dying of smallpox. At that time, Elizaveta Avgustovna herself had a severe attack, and the artist, looking at his emaciated wife, saw in her the daughter of Menshikov. Then a premonition suddenly pierced him: his Lilya was terminally ill. But at that moment this thought seemed so terrible to him that Surikov completely drove it away from him. This was five years before the death of Elizabeth Avgustovna.

Menshikov's eldest daughter, painted from the artist's wife. Sketch. 1882 year. Author: Vasily Surikov

Soon the canvas was finished, and with the money raised for it, the painter, along with his wife and daughters, went abroad. They had long dreamed of seeing Europe together and hoped that the Mediterranean air would help improve Elizabeth Avgustovna's health. Lilya really got a little stronger after the trip.

Self-portrait of Vasily Surikov

Then the Surikovs decided to visit Krasnoyarsk. Vasily missed his native Siberia very much, and he wanted his mother to get to know his daughter-in-law and granddaughters. However, the horse ride across the country lasted a month and a half in only one direction. And despite the fact that they traveled in the summer, the harsh Siberian climate affected the health of Elizabeth Avgustovna in the most unfavorable way.

Portrait of Vasily Surikov's wife

And in the parental home, something happened that the artist was so afraid of. Praskovya Fyodorovna from the first day disliked her daughter-in-law. But Lilya, fearing to upset her beloved, did not complain to him about her mother-in-law's complaints. The psychological atmosphere in the house also aggravated her condition, and she fell seriously ill after returning to Moscow. Now the artist did not leave his wife's bed, which was treated by the best doctors. But every day brought her closer to the end, she was getting worse. The death of his wife was a terrible shock for Surikov. She was only 30 years old. Subsequently, he strongly blamed himself for the rash step when he decided to take his family to Siberia.

The artist's mother. Author: Vasily Surikov

For Vasily Ivanovich, this was the hardest blow in his life. He spent a lot of time at his wife's grave at the Vagankovskoye cemetery, constantly went to church, ordered magpies and memorial services. Friends began to seriously fear for his sanity. Somehow, in a fit of rage, the artist broke all the furniture in the house and burned his drawings, cursing himself for not being able to stop Lily's illness.That he did not hear the “bell” that rang, even when his wife posed for “Menshikov in Berezovo”.

Vasily Ivanovich Surikov with his daughters Olga (right) and Elena and brother, Alexander, before leaving for Siberia. Summer 1889

Widowed at forty, the artist never married again. He gave all his unspent love to his daughters, whom he completely replaced his mother. He could not entrust any other woman with raising their daughters with Lily. When their mother passed away, the girls were nine and seven years old.

"Portrait of Olga Vasilievna Surikova", 1888. Author: Vasily Surikov

For two years Surikov did not take his hands in his hands. For days I stood in the church in front of the icons, and in the evenings I read the Bible drunkenly. He needed to work to feed the children, but he had neither creative nor physical strength. The first painting that he painted after the death of his wife was the painting "Healing of the Man Born Blind by Jesus Christ." In the image of a blind man, Surikov portrayed himself.

At that difficult time for the artist, he was helped by his brother, who came to Moscow from Krasnoyarsk. It was Alexander Ivanovich who gave the idea to Vasily - to leave for Siberia, where little would remind of his wife. And Surikov and his daughters returned to their small homeland. All researchers of his work agree that Siberia healed the artist's soul, he was able to survive his grief and start creating again. On the advice of his brother, Surikov began to work on a new theme - a heroic one, where he glorified the daring and heroism of the Russian people. Pictures of that period: "The capture of the snow town", "The conquest of Siberia by Yermak", "Suvorov's crossing the Alps."

The artist's daughter Elena

Surikov's mental pain and longing for his beloved wife subsided over the years, but a quiet sadness remained. The artist lived with her for 28 years. He wrote a lot, forgetting himself in his work, and created many portraits of women. And in each of them, the artist's brush involuntarily brought out Lily's unforgettable features.

Grave of Elizabeth and Vasily Surikov

And it is probably unnecessary to say that the artist bequeathed to bury him next to his wife. At the Vagankovskoye cemetery, he found his last refuge.


Vasily Surikov

I would like to say a few more words about the heirs of the great master, or rather to show their photos, the interweaving of their destinies is very impressive.

Top row from left to right: Ekaterina Semenova (daughter of Natalya Petrovna Konchalovskaya from her first marriage), Natalya Petrovna Konchalovskaya (daughter of the artist), son of Mikhail Petrovich Konchalovsky from her first marriage Alexei, Esperanza (wife of Mikhail Petrovich Konchalovsky), Mikhail Petrovich Konchalovsky (son of an artist), Andron Konchalovsky. Bottom row from left to right: Margot (daughter of Mikhail Petrovich from his second marriage), Olga Vasilievna Konchalovskaya-Surikova (wife of the artist and daughter of Vasily Surikov), Pyotr Petrovich Konchalovsky, Lavrenty (son of Mikhail Petrovich from his second marriage), Nikita Mikhalkov, Sergei Vladimirovich Mikhalkov

You can read about the fate of the artist's daughter Olga, who married the famous artist Pyotr Konchalovsky. here

Vasi Surikov with his daughter Olga Vasily Ivanovich Surikov with his grandchildren - Natasha and Misha Konchalovsky Andrey Konchalovsky, Sergey Mikhalkov and Nikita Mikhalkov

It was this family that gave Russia the famous directors of our time - Andrei Konchalovsky and Nikita Mikhalkov, truly worthy great-grandchildren of their ancestor. Surikov's granddaughter, Natalya Konchalovskaya, was a writer, among her works is the biography of her grandfather "The Gift is Priceless".

Here is such an incredible interweaving of destinies in one family.

Continuing the theme of families of artists in which love and harmony reigned, read: Konstantin Yuon - an artist who for 60 years loved one woman and one city.

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