1837 - 1887. Ivan Kramskoi was originally from a poor petty-bourgeois family. From 1857 to 1863 he studied at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. The young artist reacted against academic art, and later initiated the "revolt of fourteen" which ended with an expulsion from the Academy of arts its graduates, who organized Artel of Artists. Under the influence of ideas of the Russian revolutionary democrats Kramskoi asserted representation about a high public duty of artist, principles of realism, moral substance and a nationality of art. He became one of the main founders and ideologists of Mobile Art Exhibitions (or Peredvizhniki).
Later, Kramskoi created a gallery of the most famous Russian writers and scientists. There were portraits of Leo Tolstoy, Pavel Tretyakov, Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin, portrait of Botkin, in which expressive simplicity of a composition, clearness of figure emphasize the leading part of the profound psychological characteristic. Democratic sights of Kramskoi found the brightest expression in portraits of the peasants who reflected sincere riches and internal advantage of the person from people.
Continuing Alexander Ivanov's humanistic tradition, Kramskoi treated a religious plot in moral – philosophical plan. He gave the Christ dramatic experiences deeply psychological vital interpretation, idea of heroic self-sacrifice. Aspiring to expansion ideological-art maintenances of images, Kramskoi created art, worth on the verge of a portrait and a thematic picture ("Nekrasov during the period of "Last songs" ", 1877-78, "Unknown Woman", in 1883). They differ by interest to disclosing complex sincere movements, characters and destinies.
A democratic orientation of Kramskoi’s art, his acute critical judgments about the art, and persevering searches of objective public criteria of an estimation of art peculiar to it rendered essential influence on development of democratic art and art idea in Russia in the last third of 19 century.
Kramskoi is truly one of the great Russian artists that had a unique philosophy, and a significant influence on other artists around the world.