Nicolai Fechin (1881-1955)
Nicolai Fechin's father was a wood carver and gilder in Russia. When Fechin was four, he became seriously ill and was given up for dead, but miraculously recovered.The story is that he was restored by the touch of the Ikon of Tischinskoya. His fondest boyhood memories are of time spent in the Volga Forests .When he was 13, his father enrolled him in the Art School of Kazan. At 19, he began his studies at the Imperial Academy of Art in St. Petersburg.He studied with Ilya Repin, who had introduced contemporary Russian art to the West and vice versa. Fechin was graduated in 1909 and awarded a traveling scholarship through Europe. He was an instant success in European and American exhibitions with his palette-knife technique. When the Bolshevik Revolution followed WWI, Fechin left Russia for America after six years of privation. He was immediately popular in New York City with portrait commissions from celebrities and the Thomas R.Proctor prize for portraits from the National Academy in 1924.
In 1927, he moved permanently to Taos, New Mexico, beginning at once on his stream of portraits of Southwestern types. Fechin was quick and direct, painting only from life, a master of color. About 1936 he traveled through Mexico, making drawings. In 1938, he visited Bali and Japan. He settled in Santa Monica, again painting society portraits and the people of the Southwest.