Portrait of a young Man
Pavel Andreevich Fedotov
Executed circa 1847, signed in Cyrillic on the reverse P. A. Fedotov, numbered in red lower right 9, oil on card. Sent at the age of ten to the Moscow Cadet Corps, Fedotov left it in 1833 as an officer appointed to the Guard Finland Regiment in St. Petersburg where he served for ten years. As a distraction from monotony his main hobby became painting and drawing, the main theme being military scenes and camp services. At the same time, he started attending evening classes at the Academy of Arts. Following the advice of the well known fable writer Ivan Krillov and of the painter Karl Briullov he dedicated himself to his true calling- the depiction of the life of the people and left the Army in 1844, From this moment onwards, Fedotov described Russian life as seen in the market-places, in government departments and on the street, depicting the bureaucracy and the morality of the different classes during the reign of Nicholas I, as in his major painting, The Majors Marriage Proposal, painted in 1848 now in the Tretiakov Gallery. His display of critical thinking led him into confrontation with the censorship established by Nicholas I and in fact the newspaper Sovremennik in which Fedotov collaborated was closed down. In the last years of his life, Fedotov turned to portrait painting. In an effort to unveil the mental state of his subjects, he usually depicted them in their customary environment using colour as a factor of lighting. Fedotov died at the age of 37 in a psychiatric hospital, the art critic Stasov wrote Fedotov is dead having brought into the world only a tiny grain of the wealth with which his nature was endowed. But that grain was the pure gold and bore great fruits.