Alexey Gavrilovich Venetsianov was born in Moscow on February 18, 1780 in a merchant family. His ancestors were immigrants from Greece, who moved to Russia in the first half of the 18th century.
The boy studied at one of Moscow guesthouses and early began to be interested in painting. He independently copied the paintings of old masters and painted his friends. First, he was helped by a certain old artist, Pakhomych, who taught him how to make paints and stretch canvas. Also, young Alexei painted well with pastel.
In 1807, the future artist moved to St. Petersburg and entered the service at the Post Office. In his free time, he goes to the Hermitage, where he studies and copies the works of famous painters. It is known that the young Venetsianov took lessons from V. L. Borovikovsky.
At the beginning of his career, Alexei Grigoryevich worked as a portrait painter. At the same time, Venetsianov decided to publish a magazine of cartoons, but its release was banned by censorship.
In February 1811, Venetsianov presented his self-portrait, painted in oil, to the Academy of Fine Arts. For this work he was appointed a student of the Academy, and already in September for the portrait of K. I. Golovachevsky he was given the title of academician.
During the war of 1812, Venetsianov produced a series of engravings with a caricature of the French mania of the Russian nobility. The artist also continues to paint portraits of contemporaries and heroes of the past.
In the late 1810s, the painter turns to the images of peasants. At this time, he marries M. A. Azarieva and buys a small estate in the name of his wife - the villages of Tronikha and Safonkovo in the Tver province. Soon after Venetsianov two daughters of Alexander and Felitsat are born.
In 1819 A.G. Venzianov, with the rank of titular adviser, left the service and devoted himself completely to painting. He settled on his estate and began to paint pictures from peasant life.
In 1824, Venetsianov went to St. Petersburg to show his new work to the public at an academic exhibition. His paintings were received favorably. The artist decides to become a professor of painting, but the Art Council rejects his work. His paintings by the Threshing Floor, Purification of Beets and Morning of the landowner were bought by Emperor Alexander I.
In 1825, the artist was forced to return to his estate and do farming. There, he had an idea to teach the painting of talented peasant boys. The artist bought some of them from their owners. He kept them at his own expense, drove them to the Hermitage. From the students of Venetsianov subsequently came many famous artists.
In 1828, Emperor Nicholas I called Venetsianov to St. Petersburg to carry out one delicate assignment. It was necessary to rewrite the portrait of A. N. Golitsyn, spoiled by the English artist George Dow. Fulfilling the order of the king, Venetsianov also achieved the release of serf artists of the Englishman.
In 1830 A. Venetsianov turned to the emperor for financial help. He needed money for the existence of an art school and his family. The emperor granted the request. The artist was allocated a one-time payment and was invited to an audience with the king. Alexei Gavrilovich was awarded the Order of St. Vladimir of the 4th degree and was awarded the title of Artist of the Emperor Emperor with the payment of an annual salary.
After the death of his wife, the artist completely devoted himself to his students. In his estate, he built a special pavilion, where he conducted classes. For older students, he found orders for writing church iconostases. With the proceeds, I purchased materials, as well as food and clothing for students. Pupils went to him from all over the country. To those whom he could not take for training, Venetsianov gave money to buy materials.
An elderly master already devoted more time to his educational activities. He himself wrote less and less works. In St. Petersburg, he began to publish his articles on contemporary artists. Among them, many sought to make acquaintance with Venetsianov. Sometimes he painted portraits of his Petersburg acquaintances.
In the winter of 1843 the artist broke paralysis, from which he recovered with difficulty. Venetsianov watched with sadness as the peasant genre he discovered became fashionable. Young painters began to draw not the truth, but beautiful pictures, to please the viewer. By that time, the artist was deprived of his annual salary, his estate was mortgaged. He arranged an auction of his works, and almost all of them were sold out. However, the amount collected was barely enough to pay off the debts and donate to the St. Petersburg Children's Hospital.
All petitions by the artist for permission to teach at the Academy of Fine Arts were rejected. Venetsianov spent the last years of his life on his estate. He already didn’t go anywhere, he was not interested in metropolitan life, and everyone began to forget about him. The artist died in the winter of 1847 as a result of an accident. The horses carried a sled. Venetsianov tried to stop them, but became entangled in the reins, and the horses dragged his body along the ground.
The master’s death went unnoticed in St. Petersburg, but he left a deep mark in Russian art, the first to sing a simple peasant and provide a path to life for many of his students.