2023 Author: Leah Sherlock | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-27 12:28
The peculiar and versatile talent of Fyodor Petrovich Tolstoy, the biography of this remarkable figure of late classicism are worthy of the attention of modern art lovers. Much less is known about him than, for example, about Repin, Shishkin or Vrubel. We offer information about this amazing person, revealing interesting moments of his life and work.
Wind of inspiration
Count Fyodor Petrovich Tolstoy belonged to the nobility, as a baby was recorded in the Life Guards Preobrazhensky Regiment. The father of the future artist led the military department to provide the army with uniforms, food, and allowances. The boy's parents longed to see their son among the officers and prophesied a military future for him. However, the little Count Tolstoy received his first education at the Polotsk Jesuit College, where languages, theology were studied and there was a faculty of free arts. Perhaps the Muses touched the diligent and inquisitive boy there, instilling in the child's heart a devoted love for art.
Soon the little count was taken home from Belarus to St. Petersburg and sent to the Naval Corps. As a cadet, Fyodor Tolstoyventured to visit the Academy of Arts as a volunteer. The dream of becoming a professional artist became so strong that Fyodor Petrovich Tolstoy decided to give up military service forever. Despite the dissatisfaction of his relatives and the opinion of others, he resigned, devoting himself entirely to art. These were years of hardship, but not for a moment the twenty-year-old student of the Art Academy did not regret his decision. He diligently mastered the skill of a sculptor, made sketches of plaster models under the guidance of his friend Orest Kiprensky.
Breath of Hellas
The artist's favorite era is Antiquity. He enthusiastically copied ancient Greek and Roman statues, reinforcing plastic authenticity with a thorough study of the history, traditions, and customs of people of former times. Already two years after the start of training, Tolstoy's drawings and bas-reliefs are of general interest, and Tsar Alexander the First allows the artist to work in the Winter Palace. In 1809, after he presented to the audience a bas-relief of the triumphal entry of Alexander the Great into Babylon, Fyodor Petrovich Tolstoy was elected an honorary member of the Academy of Arts. Then he created his first medal dedicated to the educational activities of Chatsky. A year later, the emperor appoints Tolstoy to the post of medalist at the Mint.
First in medal business
Love for details, ease and precision of the hand allowed the master to create commemorative signs of unsurpassed quality. The artist's firm conviction that the medalmust be stamped in such a way that everyone can understand why it was made. Petersburg Academy of Arts awarded the best students with Tolstoy medals for many years.
Fyodor Petrovich Tolstoy made 20 expressive medallions in memory of the Patriotic War of 1812, created a dozen medallions dedicated to the events of the Turkish-Persian war of 1826-29. The author comprehended the historical facts allegorically, which is why the products acquired a deep meaning and great artistic value. Having reached perfection in medal art, Tolstoy wrote a work on the secrets of the creator, for those who yearn to become a medal artist, not a craftsman. The medallions of Count Fyodor Tolstoy are well known abroad, the masters were elected by many European art academies as their members.
Whatever the artist Fyodor Petrovich Tolstoy did, his heart and hand were always driven by a creative impulse, patriotism and aesthetic feeling, and by no means a desire to please the interests of those in power and dignitaries. He eschews the realistic portrayal of the features of statesmen, and uses symbols and allegories in commemorative images.
The gift of the sculptor
Not all the works of F. P. Tolstoy have reached the modern admirers of his talent. However, the ones we can enjoy in museums today are truly magnificent. The Tver Art Gallery exhibits convex relief works made of pink wax "Bathing Children" and "Boy under a Veil". They show the author's passion for the exquisite gracefulness of the Greekculture. Such is his "Darling", exhibited in the Hermitage. The elegance of the outlines, the softness and expressiveness of the lines make you remember the girl's figure for a long time.
Profile portraits made of yellow, white and pink wax, placed on a blackboard or glass, demonstrate the gift of an artist who knows a lot about the psychological component of the portrait genre. In the State Russian Museum you can see sculptures created by the hand of F. P. Tolstoy. This is the "Head of Christ" made in marble with a bowed brow and lowered gaze, full of wise love and dignity. Or a terracotta bust of Morpheus, the god of sleep, whose tightly closed eyes invite the viewer into the sweet world of slumber. The talent of the sculptor did not go unnoticed by the Council of the Academy of Arts, which appointed Fyodor Tolstoy as a professor at a prestigious educational institution.
Tolstoy's miraculous brush
The gift of a draftsman is a special page in the creative life of Tolstoy. Many drawings depicting the artist's family are closely related to the biography of Fyodor Petrovich Tolstoy. A photo of the painting “Family Portrait”, where the master depicted himself, his first wife Anna Feodorovna and his daughters Maria and Elizabeth, is presented below. The liveliness and volume of the picture is given by the ensemble of the group sitting at the table against the background of the enfilade of rooms leaving into the distance, where everyday life at home is in full swing.
Attention to realistic details also affected other paintings by Fyodor Petrovich Tolstoy. The painting "In the rooms", in whichthe favorite perspective of the world of open doors is repeated, gives an idea of the artist as a master of composition and light. The appearance of graceful antique statues echoes the thin female silhouettes in the back of the rooms, the brilliance of mirrors echoes the light pouring from the windows.
F. P. Tolstoy tried himself in the genre of landscape. Sketches of Naples, views of Bergen and the village of Pargolovsky near St. Petersburg are harmonious and refined. No wonder Pushkin mentioned Tolstoy's "miraculous brush" in the great novel "Eugene Onegin", describing the albums of lovely young ladies.
You can't take your eyes off Fyodor Petrovich Tolstoy's uncomplicated still lifes. Here is the picture “A Bouquet of Flowers, a Butterfly and a Bird”, piercing with fresh charm, and here is a reliably detailed one with an interweaving of burgundy, yellow and blue spots in the green thicket “Raspberry Branch, a Butterfly and an Ant”. You can endlessly look at the incomparable beads of red and white currants or amber-matte hailstones of juicy grapes.
Fighter for human dignity
It is difficult to briefly describe the biography of the artist Fyodor Petrovich Tolstoy, it was so multifaceted. For example, one of the important aspects of the master's life was his political activity, based on a progressive civic position. He was a member of the most advanced movements of his time, realizing that it was necessary to transform the outdated social order. Fedor Petrovich Tolstoy was a member of the Masonic lodge, participated in the creation of Lancaster schools designed to spread literacy among the people, at the age of 35 he joinedto the secret Decembrist Union of Welfare, becoming one of the leaders there.
Artist's personal life
Fyodor Tolstoy was married twice. His life path ended surrounded by daughters from his first and second marriages. Two boys born in union with Anastasia Agafonovna Ivanova died in infancy. Life gave Tolstoy a harmonious marital relationship twice. With his first wife, who died of an apoplexy, the artist was united by a touching love for art, with his second - by the unity of convictions. Together they sought release and sheltered Taras Shevchenko, a fighter for the independence of Little Russia.
In the years of his life, the same numbers are bizarrely combined: he was born in 1783, died in 1873. Fyodor Tolstoy lived 90 busy years. This is one of those people who give a chance to everything new, boldly abandoning conservatism when time challenges people.
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