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Isaac Ilyich Levitan (Russian: Исаа́к Ильи́ч Левита́н; 30 Aug. [O.S. 18 Aug.] 1860 – 4 Aug. [O.S. 22 July] 1900); classical Russian landscape painter who advanced the genre of the "mood landscape".
Born in a shtetl of Kibarty, Augustów Governorate in Congress Poland, a part of the Russian Empire (present-day Lithuania) into a poor but educated Jewish family. His father Elyashiv Levitan was the son of a rabbi, completed a Yeshiva and was self-educated....
In Sept. 1873, Isaac Levitan entered the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture where his older brother Avel had already studied for 2 years. After a year in the copying class Isaac transferred into a naturalistic class, and soon thereafter into a landscape class. Levitan's teachers were the famous Alexei Savrasov, Vasily Perov and Vasily Polenov.
In 1875, his mother died, and his father fell seriously ill and became unable to support 4 children; he died in 1877. The family slipped into abject poverty. As patronage for Levitan's talent and achievements, his Jewish origins and to keep him in the school, he was given a scholarship.
...Levitan's work was a profound response to the lyrical charm of the Russian landscape. Levitan did not paint urban landscapes; with the exception of the View of Simonov...
Levitan spent the last year of his life at Chekhov’s home in Crimea. In spite of the effects of a terminal illness, his last works are increasingly filled with light. They reflect tranquility and the eternal beauty of Russian nature.
...Levitan did not have a family or children. In the 1890s, however, he had an on-again, off-again affair with an older married woman, the painter Sofia Kuvshinnikova, which led to a small scandal — and a play by Anton Chekhov and a threatened duel with the playwright.
Isaac Levitan's hugely influential art heritage consists of more than a thousand paintings, among them watercolors, pastels, graphics, and illustrations.