Konstantin Alexejewitsch Korovin
Born. 05.12.1861 Moskau
Died. 11.09.1939 Paris
Russian Artist, Stage Designer, Impressionist
About the artist
Konstantin was born into a wealthy merchant family. His father, Aleksey Mikhailovich Korovin, earned a university degree and was more interested in arts and music than in the family business established by Konstantin’s grandfather. Konstantin’s older brother Sergei Korovin was a notable realist painter and his relative Illarion Pryanishnikov was a prominent painter of the time and a teacher at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture.
1875 – he enrolled at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, where he studied with Vasily Perov and Alexei Savrasov. His brother Sergei was already a student at the school.
1881–1882 – spent a year at the Imperial Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg but returned disappointed to the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture. He studied at the school under his new teacher Vasily Polenov until 1886.
1885 Korovin traveled to Paris and Spain. “Paris was a shock for me … Impressionists… in them, I found everything I was scolded for back home in Moscow”, he later wrote.
1888 – traveled with Mamontov to Italy and Spain, where he produced the painting On the Balcony, Spanish Women Leonora and Ampara. Konstantin traveled within Russia, the Caucasus, and Central Asia and exhibited with the Peredvizhniki. He painted in both Impressionist, and Art Nouveau, styles. Korovin’s subsequent works were strongly influenced by his travels to the north, he was captivated by the northern landscapes seen on Norway’s coast and the Northern Sea.
1890s – became a member of the Mir iskusstva art group.
1894 -his second trip to the north, with Valentin Serov, coincided with the construction of the Northern Railway. Korovin painted a large number of landscapes: Norwegian Port, St. Triphon’s Brook in Pechenga, Hammerfest: Aurora Borealis, The Coast at Murmansk, and others. The paintings are built on a delicate web of shades of grey. The etude style of these works was typical for Korovin’s art of the 1890s.
1900 – Korovin designed the Central Asia section of the Russian Empire pavilion at the Paris World Fair and was awarded the Legion of Honour by the French government.
During World War I Korovin worked as a camouflage consultant at the headquarters of one of the Russian armies and was often seen on the front lines. After the October Revolution Korovin continued his work in the theater, designing stages for Richard Wagner’s Die Walküre and Siegfried, as well as Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker (1918–1920).
In 1923 Korovin moved to Paris on the advice of Commissar of Education Anatoly Lunacharsky to cure his heart condition and help his handicapped son. There was supposed to be a large exhibition of Korovin’s works, but the works were stolen and Korovin was left penniless. For years, he produced the numerous Russian Winters and Paris Boulevards just to make ends meet.
In the last years of his life, he produced stage designs for many of the major theatres in Europe, America, Asia, and Australia, the most famous of which is his scenery for the Turin Opera House’s production of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel.
Korovin died in Paris on 11 September 1939. He was buried in Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois Russian Cemetery, in the southern suburbs of Paris.