95 Excellent Paintings by Russian Artist Vladimir Makovsky


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Artist Vladimir Makovsky

Painting is not a word; it gives you one minute, and in this minute should be everything, and if not – there is no painting. “ – Vladimir Makovsky

Unmatched satirical genre painting

When Vladimir Makovsky was alive, although he belonged to the movement of the “Wanderers” who were involved with social issues, he was in the shadow of his brother – the artist Konstantin Makovsky. Time has passed. Urban scenes by Konstantin Makovsky today are as relevant as they were more than a hundred years ago – at the time of their creation. Nothing has changed in this world?

“Painting is not a word; it gives you one minute,and in this minute should be everything, and if not – there is no painting. “ – Vladimir Makovsky


Vladimir Solovyov created an absurd and satirical painting. Landlord and his serviceman (sitting with his back straight) are by a samovar, and besides tea they also indulge in some vodka. “The broad Russian soul” of the landlord wanted to have some fun. So they called a servant (standing) and forced him to sing like … a nightingale. The landlord is conducting, showing that he should sing with a higher pitch.

Fans of nightingales (1872-73) by Russian artist Vladimir Makovsky
Fans of nightingales (1872-73) by Russian artist Vladimir Makovsky



It doesn’t seem like anyone from those waiting by the jail was condemning the arrested. It seems that the arrest was massive and recent, perhaps – political. So fresh are the emotions of those waiting. All those who wait are anxious, but each within their small groups. For some it is a tragedy of a loved one, but for others it is undisguised grief: it is possible that behind the prison walls is their breadwinner, and the family is facing hunger.

Waiting. By the prison (1875) by Russian artist Vladimir Makovsky
Waiting. By the prison (1875) by Russian artist Vladimir Makovsky



Vladimir Makovsky created another comical-satirical painting “Receiving pensions” simultaneously with his other social projects. And this was his nature: he was not ready to give up depicting urban life and the lives of common people for the sake of epic canvases.

The painting mostly depicts elderly people. They are enthusiastically talking to each other. As if that is not a state-owned building, but a social club. This excitement is emphasized by the face of a bored girl and a focused face of a young man. And … nothing has changed. Today pensioners in Russia also create these improvised social clubs when receiving their pensions.

Receiving pensions (1876) by Russian artist Vladimir Makovsky
Receiving pensions (1876) by Russian artist Vladimir Makovsky



Konstantin Makovsky created another psychological satire.

The closure of a bank was announced.

First about the victims. On the left an old woman fainted. In the center – thinking retired military man who does not know what to do. As if stunned by the news man, standing with his back to the viewer. A rich lady who wants to say everything that she is thinking. But she has no one to say it to.

On the right – a specially invited gendarme to make sure “nothing happens,” one police officer and two employees. They all have different emotions, but in reality they are empty, they are not there – because they simply cannot help, and just “carry out their duties” as mindless cogs in the machine run by someone else. Although, in fact, it is clear who is running the ship. Here he is, in the center of the composition, shifted to the right – the banker. He alone outweighs all other characters. He already turned away from the victims, but his expression is not sad at all and he doesn’t seem ashamed. Rather, he looks malignantly joyful. And behind him are his victims.

The collapse of a bank (1881) by Russian artist Vladimir Makovsky
The collapse of a bank (1881) by Russian artist Vladimir Makovsky



Another sharply social work by Vladimir Makovsky. 
Mother came to visit her son. And she brought him delicious white bread. Little boy was sent to work as an apprentice. He is barely dressed. And they work him to death. He’s always hungry. And he immediately sank his teeth into a tasty loaf of bread. And the mother touches her lips and watches him eat and cannot stop looking.

Date (1883) by Russian artist Vladimir Makovsky
Date (1883) by Russian artist Vladimir Makovsky



The most powerful, full of psychologism painting of Vladimir Makovsky.

A shop on the street. The artisan went for a walk with his wife. His head is famously thrown back, and in his hands he is holding an accordion. That’s maybe how he captured the heart of his wife. And he wants to have fun, to party, but everything has changed – because now he has a family. And the artisan is not cheerful.

And next to him is his wife with an infant. Why is she here? Her head is lowered already – there is no love, no agreement in the marriage. Ahead are just endless chores and dictates of her husband.

At the Boulevard (1886-87) by Russian artist Vladimir Makovsky
At the Boulevard (1886-87) by Russian artist Vladimir Makovsky



To break the monotonous impression, we will add only one portrait to this collection of works by Vladimir Makovsky (Vladimir Makovsky created many genre portraits). 


A deacon, as though you just saw him on the streets with a cup asking for alms. In his eyes and on his face – insight and the ability to know who will give him money and, most importantly, how much. And judging by the red color of the deacon’s face some alms are then left in some tavern, or maybe it’s just a tan from being outside so much.

A deacon (1871) by Russian artist Vladimir Makovsky
A deacon (1871) by Russian artist Vladimir Makovsky

Do you ever see anything from the images created by Vladimir Makovsky in your life?

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Makovsky was the son of collector, Yegor Ivanovich Makovsky, who was one of the founders of the Moscow Art School. Vladimir had two brothers, Nikolay Makovsky and Konstantin Makovsky, and one sister, Alexandra Makovsky, all of whom were famous painters. Vladimir studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture. He finished his studies in 1869 and the following year became one of the founding members of the Association of Travelling Art Exhibitions, where his many years of prolific work brought him to a leading position.

Makovsky’s work was defined by a perpetual humor as well as blatant irony and scorn. During the seventies his paintings dealt primarily with small-town folk. His pictures, “The Grape-juice Seller” (1879), “Fruit-Preserving” (1876) and “The Congratulator” (1878) depict various scenes where the mood is finely conceived and almost laughter-inducing. Other works of his, such as “The Benefactor” (1874) and “The Convict” (1878) are profoundly socially conscious. In them, Makovsky either criticizes the false sympathy of the aristocracy towards the poor, or draws attention to the oppression and persecution by the tsarist gendarmerie. In 1878, he became an academician.

In the eighties, during the time of Russian “democratic” painting, Makovsky produced some of his most valued works. In 1882, he was made professor at the Moscow Art School after the death of Vasili Perov. Some of Makovsky’s greatest works of this period include “In the Ante-room of the Court of Conciliation” (1880), “The Released Prisoner” (1882), and “The Collapse of the Bank” (1881). From the end of the 1880s, Makovsky began to produce more gloomy works. Quintessential works of this period include “You Shall Not Go” (1892), and “On the Boulevard” (1888).

In 1894, Makovsky became Rector of the Preparatory school of the Academy of Art. After the First Russian Revolution, he painted “January 9, 1905, on Vasilyev Island” in which he depicts the armed police firing at defenseless people. In another painting “The Sacrifices on the Khodyn Field” in which a thousand people lost their lives during the coronation ceremony in 1896 of Nicholas II, he again stood uncompromisingly on the side of the oppressed people. After the 1917 October Revolution, Makovsky helped carry over the realist traditions to the early stages of Socialist Realism.

Vladimir Yegorovich Makovsky (Russian: Влади́мир Его́рович Мако́вский; 26 January (greg.: 7 February) 1846, Moscow – 21 February 1920, Petrograd) was a Russian painter, art collector, and teacher.

MAKOVSKY Vladimir Egorovich
January 26, 1846 (Moscow) — February 21, 1920 (Petrograd)

Painter, graphic artist

Makovsky was born to the family of E. I. Makovsky — artist amateur, collector of artworks, public figure, one of the founders of Moscow School of painting, sculpture and architecture (MUZhVZ). Vladimir Makovsky was younger brother of the artists Alexandra, Konstantin, Nikolay Makovskys. His first art education Makovsky got under the guidance of his father. In 1858 he entered the MUZhVZ, studied under E. S. Sorokin and S. K. Zaryanko. In 1866 Makovsky was awarded big gold medal for the painting Literary reading and conferred the title of an artist of the 3rd degree. In 1869 by the Council of the Imperial Academy of Arts he was awarded gold medal E.-L. Vigée-Le Brun for the painting Peasants boys watch over the horses and was conferred title of an artist of the 1st degree. In 1873 Makovsky was conferred the title of an academician for the painting Nightingale Lovers.

Makovsky lived in Moscow. In 1867 he together with V. G. Perov, I. M. Pryanishnikov, P. M. Shmelkov, A. K. Savrasov, V. V. Pukirev and other painters participated in the edition of the Album of views and scenes of Russian life. In the same year Makovsky drew illustrations to the works by A. S. Pushkin. In 1871 he exposed his works at the First exhibition of the Society of Travelling Exhibition (TPKhV). In 1872 he became a member and an active participant of the exhibitions of this Society (till 1918). P. M. Tretyakov bought a lot of paintings by Makovsky from the exhibitions of TPKhV for his collection: Nightingale Lovers, Visit to poor, Waiting, The Collapse of the Bank, On the Boulevar and others.

In early 1870s Makovsky had his own lithograph workshop. He worked a lot in book graphic art, illustrated works by I. S. Turgenev, N. V. Gogol, and M. Y. Lermontov. In 1872 Makovsky painted a series of paintings (oil on cardboard) by the order of the Society of Natural Science, Anthropology and Ethnography. Later these paintings were published in the album Episodes of Sevastopol life.1854–1855.

In 1874 Makovsky travelled to Europe, visited Germany, France, Italy, England. In 1880s he often visited the Ukraine, lived in the Estate of Maslov in Orel province. In 1870s Makovsky participated in mural painting of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow; in 1888–1889 he made sketches for the painting of the Church at the station Borki near Kharkov, at the place of Tsar Train crash. Since 1884 Makovsky studied technique of etching under the guidance of L. M. Zhemchuzhnikov.

Since 1880 Makovsky took part in the exhibitions of Moscow Society of Art Lovers. In 1885 he received the highest honorary reward at the International exhibition in Antwerp.

In 1890 Makovsky made a trip to Tiflis, in 1891 he travelled through the Crimea and the Caucasus. He painted a lot in his own estate in Finland. From 1882 till 1894 he lectured at Moscow School of painting, sculpture and architecture. In 1893 Makovsky was elected a member of the Imperial Academy of Arts.

In 1894 Makovsky moved to St. Petersburg; he was appointed head of the studio of genre painting at the Higher Art School of painting, sculpture and architecture under the Imperial Academy of Arts; in 1894–1896 he was a rector of the School. In late 1890s — 1910s Makovsky took part in public activities: he was a member of supervisory board in charge of teacher’s training courses under the Imperial Academy of Arts; a member of the new projects commission at Kazan art school and Penza art school named after N. D. Seliverstov; member of the commission for buying paintings from the exhibitions in St. Petersburg for the Russian Museum and for the regional museums. In 1909 Makovsky was one of the founders of the Kuindzhi Society.

In 1902 the first personal exhibition of the works by Makovsky (together with E. E. Volkov) was held in St. Petersburg. After Oktober revolution, the Soviet government granted a pension to Makovsky; he left his work in the Academy.

Retrospective exhibition of Makovsky’s works was organized in 1947 in the Central house of art workers in Moscow. In 1997 the exhibition Family Makovsky was held in the State Tretyakov Gallery.

Vladimir Makovsky was one of the leading masters of genre painting of the second half of the 19th century. He followed the traditions of critical realism, based by P. A. Fedotov and V. G. Perov. In his works Makovsky combined revealing intonation with humor and interest to everyday life. The painter reacted on all historical and public events, including scandal lawsuits of 1870s — Process of hundred ninety three in St. Petersburg and Process of fifty in Moscow; bankruptcy and closure of banks in late 1870s — 1880s; the tragedy on the Khodynskoye field in 1901; revolutions in 1905 and 1917. Makovsky was talented in portrait painting.

Makovsky’s early works were characterized by precise details, restrained colors, and desire for the ultimate perfection. Later his manner of painting became freer, more emotional and expressive.

Heritage of Makovsky’s artworks is big: more than four hundred of paintings, a lot of drawings, lithographs, etchings. Works by Vladimir Makovsky are in many museum and private collections, including the State Tretyakov Gallery, the State Russian Museum, and the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts.