Alekseyevich Korovin (Russian: Константи́н Алексе́евич
Коро́вин, first name often spelled Constantin; November 23 [O.S.
December 5] 1861 – September 11, 1939) was a leading Russian
Youth and education
Konstantin was born in Moscow to a merchant family
officially registered as "peasants of Vladimir Gubernia".
His father, Aleksey Mikhailovich Korovin, earned a
university degree and was more interested in arts and music
than in the family business established by Konstantin's
grandfather. Konstantin's older brother Sergei Korovin was a
notable realist painter. Konstantin's relative Illarion
Pryanishnikov was also a prominent painter of the time and a
teacher at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and
In 1875 Korovin entered the Moscow School of Painting,
Sculpture and Architecture, where he studied with Vasily
Perov and Alexei Savrasov. His brother Sergey was already a
student at the school. During their student years the
Korovins became friends with fellow students Valentin Serov
and Isaac Levitan; Konstantin maintained these friendships
throughout his life.
In 1881–1882, Korovin spent a year at the Imperial
Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg, but returned disappointed
to the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and
Architecture. He studied at the school under his new teacher
Vasily Polenov until 1886.
In 1885, Korovin traveled to Paris and Spain. "Paris was
a shock for me … Impressionists… in them I found everything
I was scolded for back home in Moscow", he later wrote.
Polenov introduced Korovin to Savva Mamontov's Abramtsevo
Circle: Viktor Vasnetsov, Apollinary Vasnetsov, Ilya Repin,
Mark Antokolsky and others. The Abramtsevo Circle's love for
stylized Russian themes is reflected in Korovin's picture A
Northern Idyll. In 1885 Korovin worked for Mamontov's Opera
house. He designed the stage decor for Giuseppe Verdi's
Aida, Léo Delibes' Lakmé and Georges Bizet's Carmen.
In 1888, Korovin traveled with Mamontov to Italy and Spain,
where he produced the painting On the Balcony, Spanish Women
Leonora and Ampara. Konstantin traveled within Russia, the
Caucasus and Central Asia and exhibited with the
Peredvizhniki. He painted in the Impressionist and later in
the Art Nouveau style.
In the 1890s, Korovin became a member of the Mir
iskusstva art group.
Korovin's subsequent works were strongly influenced by
his travels to the North. In 1888 he was captivated by the
stern northern landscapes seen in The Coast of Norway and
the Northern Sea.
His second trip to the North, with Valentin Serov in
1894, coincided with the construction of the Northern
Railway. Korovin painted a large number of landscapes:
Norwegian Port, St. Triphon's Brook in Pechenga, Hammerfest:
Aurora Borealis, The Coast at Murmansk and others. The
paintings are built on a delicate web of shades of grey. The
etude style of these works was typical for the Korovin's art
of the 1890s.
Using material from his northern trip, Korovin designed
the Far North pavilion at the 1896 All Russia Exhibition in
Nizhny Novgorod. He painted ten big canvasses for the
pavilion as well, depicting various aspects of Northern and
Arctic lifestyle. After the closure of the Exhibition, the
canvasses were eventually placed in the Yaroslavsky Rail
Terminal in Moscow. In the 1960s, they were restored and
transferred to the Tretyakov Gallery.
In 1900, Korovin designed the Central Asia section of the
Russian Empire pavilion at the Paris World Fair and was
awarded the Legion of Honour by the French government.
In the beginning of the 20th century, Korovin focused his
attention on the theater. He moved from Mamontov's opera to
the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. Departing from
traditional stage decor, which only indicated the place of
action, Korovin produced a mood decor conveying the general
emotions of the performance. Korovin designed sets for
Konstantin Stanislavsky's dramatic productions, as well as
Mariinsky's operas and ballets. He did the stage design for
such Mariinsky productions as Faust (1899), The Little
Humpbacked Horse (1901) and Sadko (1906) that became famous
for their expressiveness.
In 1905, Korovin became an Academician of Painting and in
1909–1913 a professor at the Moscow School of Painting,
Sculpture and Architecture.
One of the artist's favourite themes was Paris. He
painted A Paris Cafe (1890s), Cafe de la Paix (1905), La
Place de la Bastille (1906), Paris at Night, Le Boulevard
Italien (1908), Night Carnival (1901), Paris in the Evening
(1907) and others.
During World War I Korovin worked as a camouflage
consultant at the headquarters of one of the Russian armies
and was often seen on the front lines. After the October
Revolution Korovin continued to work in the theater,
designing stages for Richard Wagner's Die Walküre and
Siegfried, as well as Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's The
In 1923 Korovin moved to Paris on the advice of Commissar
of Education Anatoly Lunacharsky to cure his heart condition
and help his handicapped son. There was supposed to be a
large exhibition of Korovin's works but the works were
stolen and Korovin was left penniless. For years he produced
the numerous Russian Winters and Paris Boulevards just to
make ends meet.
In the last years of his life he produced stage designs
for many of the major theatres of Europe, America, Asia and
Australia, the most famous of which is his scenery for the
Turin Opera House's production of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's
The Golden Cockerel.
Korovin died in Paris on September 11, 1939.
Konstantin's son Alexey Korovin (1897–1950) was a notable
Russian-French painter. Because of an accident during his
childhood he had both feet amputated. Alexey committed
suicide in 1950.
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