Vasily Andreevich Tropinin (1776 - 1857)
Vasily Andreevich Tropinin was born as a serf of Count Munnich in the village Karpovka of Novgorod area and then transferred to Count Morkovs as a part of the Munich's daughter's dowry. Soon he was sent to Saint Petersburg to study the trade of a confectioner. Instead of learning his trade Tropinin secretly attended free drawing lessons in the Imperial Academy of Arts.
In 1799, his owner allowed Tropinin's to study at the Academy as a non-degree student (Postoronny uchenik). He took lessons from Schukin and was supported by the President of the Academy Alexander Sergeyevich Stroganov. In 1804 Tropinin's painting called “Boy Grieving over a Dead Bird” was displayed at the Academy's exhibition and was noted by the Russian Empress at the time Maria Fedorovna.
At the dawn of his success, Count Morkov recalled Tropinin from St. Petersburg to his Ukrainian estate Kupavka. He appointed the great artist to be a confectioner and a lackey. Soon the owner changed his mind and assigned Tropinin to copy the works of European and Russian painters and produce the portraits of the Count’s family members. Vasilyi spent around twenty years of his life in Ukraine, and many of his works from that time were of Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian country side.
In 1823 at the age of 47 Tropinin at last became a free man and moved to Moscow. The same year he presented his paintings “The Lace Maker”, “The Beggar” and The Portrait of artist Skotnikov to the Imperial Academy of Arts and received the official certificate of a painter (Svobodnyj Khudozhnik). In 1824 he was elected an Academician.
Since 1833 Vasilyi mastered the Moscow Public Art Classes that later became the famous Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. In 1843 Tropinin was elected to be an honorary member of the Moscow Art Society. He died in 1857 in Moscow. During his life Tropinin painted more than 3000 portraits.
Vasily Tropinin was a Russian Romantic painter. Most of his life the artist spent as a serf; he didn't attain his freedom until he was more than forty years old. Some of the artist’s most important paintings are the portrait of Alexander Pushkin, the portraits of The Lace Maker and The Gold Embroiderer.