Life in nature with Isaac Levitan

Jul 13, 2019 | Essays in English, Russian fine art

Isaac Levitan (1860-1900) is my favorite landscape painter – realist, in whose work I find calmness, balance and joy of touch with nature.

I have liked this artist since my childhood, when in my grandparents ‘ house I watched the wall-hung reproduction of one of his beautiful lake landscapes.

I have forgotten that fact. I reminded of it, recently watching the pictures of Levitan on the Internet. It is interesting how art can bring us back years, touching the hidden depths of the soul.

Levitan is a Russian painter of Jewish descent with a difficult life. He was born in a small village of the Suvalskaya district in the northwestern part of the former Russian Empire, in a poor family with four children altogether.

The father has been trained as a rabbi, but gave up the religious engagement. He was self-educated and knowledgeable man, speaking well French and German. Levitan’s father worked for some time as a translator for a French company building railway objects in Russia.

It is not very clear whether Isaac was born son of his father and mother or was an adopted child – there are different assumptions. Whatever the truth, the family cared for all their children with the same love.

Isaac’s parents moved to Moscow looking for better sustenance when Isaac has been ten-year. Isaac and his brother Abel enrolled in the famous Moscow School of Fine Art, Sculpture and Architecture. The training of the two encountered serious financial difficulties, as the mother has died quite young, and soon after that their father died of typhus, too. That is why the young Isaac received a scholarship as a talented student of poor descent. During his training he won various awards with his paintings.

After the graduation there have been many years full of hurdles and very hard work for Isaac.

Levitan was repeatedly forced to move from place to place due to his Jewish origin but retained optimism throughout his life. He obviously possessed an incredibly strong spirit and light character, accepting the difficulties in life and overcoming health problems. Isaac had a very fragile health, with serious heart problems due to diseases in childhood years.

An interesting fact from his biography is that Levitan was a close friend of the great Russian writer Anton Pavlovich Chehov.

Despite all the difficulties, he managed to travel quite a lot – both in Russia and in Europe. Voyages broadened his art horizons, but Levitan remained focused on landscape painting throughout his life.

He is called “landscape painter of the mood”, because his paintings are very tender and lyrical, and convey his feelings from the touch with nature. Levitan discovers in nature an infinite source of strength and grounds for inspiration.

He leaves behind a huge number of gentle, balancing, wonderful landscapes – paintings of all seasons.

The field in his paintings is not uniform and dull but gives strength and tranquillity. An incredible master in the depiction of water surfaces, Levitan manages to convey the charm of Russian rivers and lakes with his brush. He paints seascapes, too.

I especially like the forest landscapes of Levitan. In the woods in his paintings every tree speaks, quietly whispering something understandable and intimate, like slowly singing. The light is astonishing, it makes every single twig and leaf look special.

I have chosen to show you a picture that is new to me. This is the picture “Country house”/ “dacha“ in the Russian lifestyle/.

Small summer house with a lighted terrace, nestled cosy in the dark shadows of the big trees around…

I hope you feel the tranquillity and romance of the quiet summer evening. Can you hear the crickets?

There is nothing better to the life in nature.

Enjoy the works of Isaac Levitan in Wikiart.