Ivan Nikitich Nikitin - Portrait of a Youth in a Powdered Wig, probably Tsarina Elizabeth I Petrovna
Portrait of a Youth in a Powdered Wig, probably Tsarina Elizabeth I Petrovna
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Ivan Nikitich Nikitin (Moscow c.1680 - 1742)

Ivan Nikitich Nikitin was a Russian portrait and battle painter.

Nikitin was born in Moscow to a family of an Orthodox priest. He received his first artistic lessons from Schwonbek, a Dutch artist, at the engraving shop of the Kremlin Armoury. In 1711 the Armory was moved to St. Petersburg. In St. Petersburg under Danhauer and was amongst the first of the artistes pensionnaires of Peter I along with Andrei Matveev (1702-1739).

Between 1716 and 1720 he and his brother Roman Nikitin were sent to Italy by Peter the Great (1672-1725). There the brothers learnt the art of painting at Florence, with Redi (1665-1726) and Venice. He also studied in Paris under De Largillière (1656-1746). After returning to Russia Nikitin became the favourite court painter of Peter the Great. He worked in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

After Peter’s death Nikitin continued to work at the court until 1732, when he and his brothers Roman and Rodion were arrested for treason due to slanderous accusations. Nikitin was tortured, imprisoned and then exiled in Tobolsk.

In 1740 Anna of Russia (1693-1740) signed an amnesty for the brothers. The amnesty came into force in 1741. At the request of the new Empress Elizabeth of Russia (1709-1762) Nikitin travelled back from Tobolsk to St. Petersburg. He died somewhere on the road, either in late 1741 or in early 1742.

The early portraits by Nikitin were strongly influenced by the traditional seventeenth century Parsuna style : no perspective, rigid local colours, dark backgrounds. The later portraits are typical Baroque paintings.

Besides portraits Nikitin was also considered to be the first notable Russian battle painter.

Nikitin is represented in the following collections : the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow ; the State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg ; the Museum of the Academy, Saint Petersburg ; amongst