SOKOLOV PETR PETROVICH 1821 (Saint Petersburg) — 1899 (Saint Petersburg)
Painter, graphic artist Petr Petrovich Sokolov was an outstanding artist of the silver age. His paintings on everyday topics, watercolors on hunting theme and easel illustrations for the masterpieces of Russian literature are known to many people.
He comes from a family of artists; son of the famous watercolor portraitist Petr Fedorovich Sokolov, brother of artists Pavel and Alexander Sokolov, nephew of K. P. Bryullov.
During the second half of the 1830s, he studied at the Mining Institute in St. Petersburg. In 1840-1843, he was a volunteer student of the Imperial Academy of Arts in the class of historical painting with P. V. Basin, F. A. Bruni, and K. P. Bryullov. In 1855, he received the title of self-taught (free) artist for watercolor portrait painting.
He lived in St. Petersburg and Moscow, periodically on his estate in the Tambov province. He traveled to Ryazan and other provinces of Central Russia. He visited France on multiple occasions.
During the Russian-Turkish War (1877-1878), he was an artist-correspondent in the Imperial Headquarters.
Sokolov is the only artist to receive the St. George Cross. Almost 15 years later, Sokolov received another award, the council of the reformed Academy of Arts, as per their new charter, awarded him the highest artistic title of academician. In 1879, he published drawings dedicated to episodes of the Russian-Turkish war (St. Petersburg: V.P. Meshchersky Publishing House).
He worked a lot in the field of book graphics, created cycles of illustrations for the works of I. S. Turgenev (“Notes of a Hunter”, 1867-1895), N. V. Gogol (“Dead Souls”, 1880s – 1890s), N.A. Nekrasov, L. N. Tolstoy and others.
As an enthusiastic hunter and a talented artist, Sokolov knew perfectly the anatomy of animals and their habits, and skillfully transferred his knowledge to the canvas.
His life was not limited to hunting and painting. The artist traveled a lot across Russia and depicted scenes from peasant life in the smallest detail on his canvases.
“In Petr Sokolov, the features of unbridled romanticism and the most sincere realism are strangely combined” – said so about P.P. Sokolov, Alexander Benois, while deeply characterizing the creative personality of the artist and giving an accurate estimation: “He was a man with eternally agitated nerves, who possessed an irresistible propensity for fiction. His work fully reflects his personality. All of it is imbued with rebellion and unrestraint spirit. Typical “Pyotrsokolovky” – are those of his pictures, mostly on the hunt theme and folk scenes, which were created in urge, paroxysm, slipslop, as if the effort was in vain. The works are painted with everything that comes to the hand – watercolors, gouache, pastels, and oils. The faces of the characters are distorted with age or by drunkenness, their clothes are wrinkled and torn, horses either rush in fury or barely move their feet as if they were terrible haunts, the huts are ready to fall apart, the roads are impassable from slush, the sky is dull with despair, and the forests are destroyed by the autumn wind”.
He gained the greatest fame as a watercolorist for his works on the themes of hunting and peasant life, which are similar in nature to the works of The Wanderers and which are characterized by “colorful, juicy style of painting, folk way of forming characters”. His works were shown at exhibitions in the halls of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1874, 1876 and 1877), international exhibitions in Philadelphia (1876), Paris (1889), Berlin (1891), London (1891). He was a full member of the St. Petersburg artist association (1863–1879), member and exhibitor of the Society of Russia watercolorists (1880-е — 1890-е), honorary member of the Society of French artists (starting from 1889).
He held personal exhibitions in St. Petersburg (1887 and 1900), Paris (1889). In 1889, he was awarded a gold medal and the Order of the Legion of Honor for the painting “Horse fair in the city of Lebedyan”. In 1899, he was awarded the title of Academician of Imperial Academy of Arts.
In 1948, a retrospective exhibition of works by Sokolov, from public and private collections, was held in Moscow.
Sokolov’s work can be found in many museum collections, including the State Tretyakov Gallery, the Pushkin Museum and others.