Nicolai Fechin was born in Kazan, Russia. His father was a woodcarver, gilder and maker of church altars. At age fourteen, Fechin enrolled in the Kazan Art School. He continued his studies at the Imperial Academy of Fine Art in St. Petersburg, where he studied with the great Russian painter, Ilya Repin. For his last year at the Academy, Fechin was required to produce competitive canvases. Fechin won the Prix de Rome for one such painting entitled Bearing off the Bride (which is now in the permanent collection of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center, Oklahoma City) entitling him to a traveling scholarship abroad. This canvas was later sent to an exhibition in Munich, where it won a gold medal and brought Fechin international acclaim.
Annually from 1910 forward, Fechin received invitations to international exhibitions, including those at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh. Fechin was well-respected in Russia and was commissioned to paint a portrait of V.J. Lenin in 1918. Two of Fechin's U.S. patrons, W.S. Stimmel and Jack R. Hunter, were responsible for bringing Fechin and his family out of the Soviet Union in 1923.
Once in the United States, Fechin began teaching at the New York Academy of Art. In 1924 he won the coveted Thomas Proctor prize for best portrait at the National Academy Exhibition. Fechin was stricken with tuberculosis in 1926; his doctor prescribed the dry climate of the Southwest.
Fellow painter John Young-Hunter spoke very highly of Taos and its art community, and at the invitation of Mabel Dodge Lujan, Fechin and his family moved to Taos, New Mexico. Fechin's brilliant portraits from this period are a reflection of the region. The images of the local Indians and Hispanics are colorful, dramatic, and filled with intense character.
Actively seeking works by Nicolai Fechin.