BIOGRAPHY FOR NICOLAI FECHIN (1881 - 1955)
Nicolai Fechin was born in Kazan, Russia, to a poor, but remarkably talented craftsman; his father was a woodcarver, gilder and maker of church altars. Nicolai Fechin would display the skill of a draftsman in most of his paintings and life's work. By the time the boy was only thirteen he was ready to enter into formal art training, and attending the newly opened Art School of Kazan near his village in Russia.
At age fourteen, Fechin enrolled in the Kazan Art School. He continued his studies at the Imperial Academy of Fine Art in St. Petersburg, where he studied with the great Russian painter, Ilya Repin. For his last year at the Academy, Fechin was required to produce competitive canvases. Nicolai Fechin won the Prix de Rome for one such painting entitled Bearing off the Bride (which is now in the permanent collection of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center, Oklahoma City) entitling him to a traveling scholarship abroad. This painting was later sent to an exhibition in Munich, where it won a gold medal and brought Fechin international acclaim.
Annually from 1910 forward, Fechin received invitations to international exhibitions, including those at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh. Nicolai Fechin was well-respected in Russia and was commissioned to paint a portrait of V.J. Lenin in 1918. Two of Fechin's U.S. patrons, W.S. Stimmel and Jack R. Hunter, were responsible for bringing Fechin and his family out of the Soviet Union in 1923.
Fellow painter John Young-Hunter spoke very highly of Taos and its art community, and at the invitation of Mabel Dodge Lujan, and following the Bolshevik Revolution, Fechin would relocate his family to the United States, where he soon moved from New York to the high pine forests of the Colorado Plateau. The region reminded him of his home in Russia, and Fechin was instantly attracted to the many native peoples who inhabited the region. His work began to focus on the Navajo, Apache and Pueblo peoples, and their villages and landscapes. He loved the area so much that he purchased a home and acreage that actually adjoined one reservation.
Once in the United States, Fechin began teaching at the New York Academy of Art. In 1924 he won the coveted Thomas Proctor prize for best portrait at the National Academy Exhibition. Fechin was stricken with tuberculosis in 1926; his doctor prescribed the dry climate of the Southwest. Nicolai Fechin's brilliant portraits from this period are a reflection of the region. The images of the local Indians and Hispanics are colorful, dramatic, and filled with intense character. His work soon appeared at the International Exhibit of the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh. His work met with almost instant success, and garnered praise from such contemporaries as Sargent, Monet and Pisarro.
Nicolai Fechin dedicated the next few years to renovating the home, by hand, and today his house is considered itself a work of art. He and his family would live there for seven years before moving to Santa Monica, California but during that time he would successfully capture the remarkable colors and scenes of the native people, traveling as far a Mexico to sketch in charcoal, pencil and pastel the places and people of the region. The home of Nicolai Fechin is now home to the Taos Art Museum.
After his final relocation, Nicolai Fechin took up a career teaching art in his own studio. Prior to his death in 1955, one of his largest collectors helped him stage a retrospective exhibition of his work at two museums, one in San Diego, California and the other in La Jolla, Californa. The events were tremendously successful, and initiated a new wave of interest in the artist.
Since the death of Nicolai Fechin, his family has established the Fechin Institute, an educational institution which also has an extensive collection of his work.
NICOLAI FECHIN GALLERY OF ART
Nicolai Fechin Gallery of Art - Visit the Nicolai Fechin Gallery of Art website.
NICOLAI FECHIN DEALER EXPERT EVALUATION
NICOLAI FECHIN PAINTING EXHIBITIONS & AWARDS
1908 First Prize, Imperial Academy of Fine Art, Petrograd
1909 Gold Medal, International Glass Palace, Munich
1924 Proctor Prize, National Academy of Design, New York, New York
1927 Stendahl Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1930 California State Fair, Sacramento, California
1935 First Prize, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California
1936 Medal of Honor, Foundation of Western Artists
1939 Golden Gate International Exposition
1939 Oakland Art Gallery, Oakland, California
1930s-1940s Stendahl Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1968 Maxwell Gallery, San Francisco, California
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