22 March 1851 – 2 October 1895

Aleksey Danilovich Kivshenko was a distinguished Russian painter, renowned primarily for his historical scenes, notably those depicting the Russo-Turkish Wars. His portfolio also includes hunting and genre scenes, and he was closely associated with the Peredvizhniki, a group of realist artists.

Kivshenko was born on a small stud farm in Tula Governorate, into a family of serfs owned by Count Sheremetev. His father, an enthusiast of art and music, encouraged Kivshenko’s early interest in drawing. At the age of nine, Kivshenko began his formal art education at the Imperial Society for the Encouragement of the Arts under the tutelage of Ivan Kramskoi.

From 1867 to 1877, Kivshenko studied at the Imperial Academy of Arts, where he was mentored by Kārlis Hūns. During his academic years, he also audited classes at the State Institute of Technology and the Medico-Surgical Academy, although these did not captivate his interest. To support himself, he worked as a scribe for the Admiralty Board.

In 1880, after being awarded a foreign fellowship, Kivshenko embarked on extensive travels across Europe, visiting Paris, Düsseldorf, and Munich. In Munich, he worked with notable artists Gabriel von Max and Wilhelm von Diez. Upon his return to Russia in 1884, the paintings he created during his travels earned him the prestigious title of “Academician.”

Later that year, Tsar Alexander III commissioned Kivshenko to produce scenes from the recent Russo-Turkish War. To fulfill this commission, Kivshenko traveled to Transcaucasia to create sketches. He also taught drawing at the Saint Petersburg Art and Industry Academy until 1889.

In 1891, Kivshenko joined archaeologist Nikodim Kondakov on an expedition to Palestine and Syria. This journey resulted in numerous sketches depicting everyday life and ancient architecture, many of which were later used as book illustrations. In 1893, Kivshenko was honored as a full member of the Imperial Academy of Arts and began teaching a class in battle painting.

Kivshenko’s life came to an untimely end during a visit to Germany in 1895. Despite his early death, his contributions to Russian art, particularly in the realm of historical painting, left a lasting legacy. His works continue to be celebrated for their vivid depiction of historical events and their significant impact on Russian realist art.