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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Nikolay Makovsky

Cityscape, 1886, Nikolay Makovsky                                      
Psychologists and sociologists have long been fascinated by the relationships and personalities of siblings with regard to their birth order. Lets face it, a first child is not born into the same family environment as the second or third child (after the third child, the differences become insignificant). The eldest child is, for a short time at least, an only child, the subject of individualized care, treatment, and adoration. A second child has older, more experience, perhaps more affluent parents, not to mention an older brother or sister to look up to and play with. And finally, the third child has all of that plus parents who tend to be more tolerant, having learned when to say "no" and when to allow the child to learn from consequential cause and effect.

View from Embankment of the Moscow River (before 1875), Nikolay Makovsky
The Water Wheel, Nikolay Makovsky
Studies have found that the oldest child tends to be the most serious, most responsible, most attentive to rules, most focused upon success, and often the most highly educated sibling. The third child, on the other hand, is often seen as an adventurous sort, a carefree, rowdy rebel, bent on being different, sometimes just for the sake of being different. The middle child is usually labeled the "peacemaker" acquiring such skills perhaps simply as a means of survival. These roles are often most noticeable in children, but very often still manifest themselves throughout adulthood. Gender seems to be of little consequence, but age differences are a factor, though they seem to just complicate the equation more than anything else. You can take this for what it's worth, but from my own family experience as an eldest child, and that of my wife (we're both the oldest of three) it fits.

The Makovsky brothers.
Feeding Turkeys,
Nikolay Makovsky
Yesterday and the day before I wrote about the Russian Makovsky brothers, Konstantin and Vladimir (the two items directly below). Konstantin was born in 1839, Vladimir in 1846. Both were outstanding painters. Their brother, Nikolay, was the middle child, born in 1841 (above). They also had a younger sister, Alexandra, who became a painter. All four siblings studied painting at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture. Nikolay graduated in 1858. It would be difficult (and probably fruitless) to suggest whether Konstantin or Vladimir was the better painter. All three painted pretty much in the same style though their content differed. Konstantin and Vladimir were almost exact opposites in this regard, fitting quite precisely the sibling roles outlined above. Both painted portraits and did so very well, though Vladimir's might be considered merely good, as opposed to his older brother's exceptional efforts. Nikolay simply chose not to competed. His work consists of mostly landscapes and rural genre (top and right) similar, but less sympathetic, as that of his younger brother.

Cairo, 1876, Nicolay Makovsky (probably not the city itself).
Cairo, 1879, Nikolay, Makovsky
Unlike Vladimir, being just two years younger than Konstantin, Nikolay followed him to St. Petersburg to study at the Imperial Academy of Arts from which he graduated in 1866. Having won a few minor awards, Nikolay began working as an architect's assistant, with a license to supervise construction. All three brothers were charter members of the Association of Traveling Art Exhibitions. This group was, in fact, was the main means of exhibiting and sales for Nikolay. Then in 1873, when Konstantin decided to tour Russia, the Ukraine, and Egypt, Nikolay tagged along, creating some of his best work during or shortly after the trip which lasted for two years. His Cairo, 1876 (above), Cairo, 1879 (left), and After Church (below) from 1886, were the result of this international foray and an indication that Nikolay had the makings of a first-rate travel artist. Apparently Nikolay enjoyed foreign travel, for in returning to Moscow, he soon left again to spend time in the Russian community in Paris.

After Church, 1886, Nikolay Makovsky, shortly before his death.
Church of the Village Dzyakava,
1872, Nikolay Makovsky
Nikolay Makovsky might have gone on to eclipse both his brothers as artists, however, he was quite young when he died in St. Petersburg in 1886. He was a mere forty-five years of age, unmarried, leaving behind no children and few works other than his Egyptian paintings and some deftly drawn and painted churches dating from his time working in the restoration of various churches in and around Moscow. His Church of the Village Dzyakava (right) in Kolomenskoe near Moscow, dates from 1872 and is typical of his mastery of Russian architectural renderings. My favorite, however, is Makovsky's The Apiary (below, left) from 1882, probably painted during his time in Paris, given its slightly "Frenchy" look.

The Apiary, 1882,
Nikolay Makovsky


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