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CREATIVE HERITAGE OF THE PREVIOUS GENERATIONS OF ARTISTS: DMITRY STEPANOVICH ZHILOV

 

Dmitry Zhilov in a painting class-room of N.I. Feshin, Kazan Art school, 1913-1916
Dmitry Zhilov in a painting
class-room of N.I. Feshin,
Kazan Art school, 1913-1916

Our website was addressed by Marina Dmitrievna Bernatskaya, the daughter of the Russian artist and sculptor D.S. Zhilov, graduator of the art school in 1916 in Kazan, the pupil in painting of N.I. Feshin.

The destiny of the talented artist and sculptor was not easy, but he had never stopped creating: drawing, sculpturing and writing. Nowadays his daughter and heiress owns the collection of painting and graphic works of the artist – the representative of the famous “Feshin’s school” which is worth to be introduced to the widest range of the modern audience. But the audience should be, without any doubt, educated and mature, interested in the history of the native fine art and understand the value of the true high professionalism.

 We are glad to help Marina Dmitrievna Bernatskaya to keep the memory of her father – a remarkable Russian artist and sculptor Dmitry Stepanovich Zhilov.

Artist Margarita Siourina

Zhilov Dmitry Stepanovich
1891-1959

Zhilov Dmitry Stepanovich was born on the 21st of October in 1891 in the family of a peasant in the village of Bazarny Karbulak of NIzhnevolzhskaya where he finished secondary two-years school.

Dmitry Zhilov with his friend in a painting studio
Dmitry Zhilov with his friend in a painting studio
Student ID Card of Dmitry Zhilov
Student ID Card of Dmitry Zhilov
Dmitry Zhilov with his friends, 1913-1916, Kazan period
Dmitry Zhilov with his friends, 1913-1916,
Kazan period

From 1910 till 1911 he studied in Volsk Teachers Seminary. In autumn 1911 he entered Kazan art school where he was a capable pupil. At school Dmitry Zhilov studied painting under N.I. Feshin and sculpture - under V.S. Bogatyrev.

While studying at school during the first two years he received scholarship from Zemstvo, and during the last two years of studying he earned his living by teaching drawing at college for deaf-and-dumb people, gave private lessons, painted signs and scenery for theatres.  This is a extract from his letter written in September 1914: “…I paint scenery with Ben’kov at a city theatre…the four of us work: give full points - the press extols our scenery”.

This is another extract from the letter of 1915: “… I dropped everything and began to work, Two works have just made after Christmas-tide… and got the first category for both of them…and first of all for the portrait. Now I work at colours and drawing for the portrait and this makes me infinitely happy… Before the Easter I exhibited the works of all the classes, except the model (sculpture) class and received the first category for all the works. Received  the first premium (25 roubles) for the competitive sketch for sculpture “Second Patriotic War” (the First world War is meant, which is second after the Patriotic War 1812). In general I also painted a lot and successfully – got the first category in painting and drawing as well. Now I paint portraits gradually.”

In a painting class-room of N.I. Feshin
In a painting class-room of N.I. Feshin

His first two art works - sculptural portraits of two artists Stashis and Popov - were exhibited at the Peredvizhnik exhibition in 1916 in Kazan. In 1916 Dmitry Zhilov successfully finished two faculties of Kazan art school – sculpture and painting. He got excellent grades for all art subjects.

Dmitry Zhilov and a sculptural portrait of Popov, 1913-1916,  Kazan
Dmitry Zhilov and a sculptural portrait of Popov,
1913-1916, Kazan
Self-portrait, 1916 год, oil on canvas, 24х17
Self-portrait,
1916, oil on canvas, 24х17
Portrait of an old woman, 1916, paper, pencil, 73х45
Portrait of an old woman,
1916, paper, pencil, 73х45

Having finished the art school he was drafted into the army, later in December 1916 he was sent to warrant officers' school in Kiev. Upon demobilization in 1918 Dmitry Stepanovich taught at school of the 2nd level and was the manager of art section of Bazarno-Karbulaksky office of the Union of Education Workers. In 1923 he was sent by board of the Saratov Cultural Department of Labour Union of Education Workers to Moscow Highest Art Workshops to continue his education. By that time Dmitry Stepanovich already had his own family, children, and taking into consideration the current situation in the country – ruin, hunger, especially in Volga region, he was compelled to give up creating. In 1923 he entered agronomical faculty of the Saratov agricultural institute, which he graduated from in 1927. He worked as agronomist, taught at college. In autumn 1931 he was sent to post-graduate study to Moscow. In 1931-1933 he was the graduate student of All-Union Institute of Animal Husbandry, defended the dissertation and received degree of Candidate of Biology. In May, 1933 D. S. Zhilov was enlisted as the senior research associate of the Institute where worked till 1938.

All these years, pursuing science, Dmitry Stepanovich also kept studying art: each free minute he took a pencil or a brush, did sketches, painted portraits; he was constantly  interested in art life, achievements in different areas of art, supported friendly relations with companions-artists, such as G. Kozlov, A. Grigoriev, N. Khristenko. In 1938 when the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition opened, Dmitry Stepanovich passed to work as a sculptor in Architectural and Art Workshops at Management of the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition. He executed a number of creative works which were exhibited in 1939-41 at the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition. All those works were accepted with an excellent assessment by the Art Council of the exhibition. The war interrupted creative plans of the artist.

Sketch (Self-portrait?) 1943, paper, charcoal pencil, crayon, 28х20
Sketch (Self-portrait?)
1943, paper, charcoal pencil, crayon, 28х20
Female head, 1940, white marble, 12х11х8 (straight view)
Female head,
1940, white marble, 12х11х8
(straight view)
Portrait of the wife in a brown dressing gown, 1957, canvas, oil, 45х35,5
Portrait of the wife in a brown dressing gown,
1957, canvas, oil, 45х35,5

During the Great Patriotic War in 1941-1943 Dmitry Stepanovich was directed by the People's commissar of agriculture of the USSR to work in a front strip as commissioner for livestock evacuation of the Crimea and the Northern Caucasus. He participated in military operations, was awarded medals: "For defense of the Caucasus" and "For valorous work during the Great Patriotic War".

Since the end of 1944 he again worked as a sculptor at the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition. In 1948 D. S. Zhilov according to the recommendation of sculptors S. Merkurov and V. Mukhina and the director of the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition and the academician N. Tsitsin was accepted as the member of the Moscow Union of Artists. In the 50s of the last century Dmitry Stepanovich Zhilov worked at the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition with the sculptor Alexander Pavlovich Kibalnikov who had just moved to Moscow from Saratov. Dmitry Stepanovich was friends with Kibalnikov' family during that period.

In 1954 a monument dedicated to I.V. Michurin and created by Dmitry Stepanovich Zhilov was opened at the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition. This monument is at VDNKh nowadays. In 1957 D. S. Zhilov's self-portrait made of wood was exhibited at the All-Union Art Exhibition at the Manezh in Moscow.

Self-portrait, the beginning of the 1950s, plywood, water-colour, 44х30,5
Self-portrait,
the beginning of the 1950s, plywood, water-colour, 44х30,5
Portrait of the daughter, 1949, paper, charcoal pencil, 28х20
Portrait of the daughter,
1949, paper, charcoal pencil, 28х20
Portrait of the wife in a brown dressing gown, 1957, canvas, oil, 45х35,5
Portrait of the wife in a brown dressing gown,
1957, canvas, oil, 45х35,5

The last work, which Dmitry Stepanovich worked at, was a sketch of the monument  “The Conquerors of the North” for Komi ASSR. It was approved and accepted by the Arts Council but a sudden death on the 7th of January 1959 did not allow to complete that creative idea of the sculptor.

Unfortunately, most of his sculptural works were not saved and painting works were lost. Nevertheless, despite difficult life circumstances those works which were managed to be saved and gathered, give an idea about Dmitry Stepanovich Zhilov as a talented and interesting artist of Feshin’s school.

Marina Dmitrievna Bernatskaya, the artist's daughter

 

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Dmitry Zhilov, the 1910s
Dmitry Stepanovich Zhilov at work, the 1950s
Dmitry Stepanovich Zhilov at work, the 1950s

PHOTOS AND TEXTS TO BE PUBLISHED AT THE WEBSITE WERE SUBMITTED BY M.D. BERNATSKAYA

 

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