Moscow Period Of The Life And Creative Work Of The Artist Petr Zakharov-Chechen


The article continues the cycle of the publications about the life and the creative work of the artist Petr Zakharov. The first publication under the title “On the issue of studying the life and creative work of academician of painting Petr Zakharov-Chechen” was published in the European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences journal and was devoted to the problem of the historiography of Petr Zakharov. The presented article analyzes the Moscow period of the formation of the artist Petr Zakharov and the influence on this process of his tutor P. Ermolov. This fact can be proved by the letters to N. Samoilov, artist P. Volkov with the request to enroll Peter Zakharov to the Academy of Arts. According to the diaries, it was found that P.N. Ermolov applied to the most popular Moscow artist V. Tropinin asking to teach Zakharov. Several researchers suppose that P. Zakharov was in St. Petersburg already in 1831. However, there are no documentary facts confirming this. Thus it is unlikely that Zakharov was in St. Petrburg, as evidenced by the answer of P.A. Kikin, the Chairman of the Society for the Encouragement of Artists to P. Ermolov in that period. After that, at the beginning of 1832, Ermolov made an attempt to place Zakharov to study in Moscow in Kremlin architectural school, the head of which was the secret adviser D.М. Lvov. However, this attempt was unsuccessful. Nevertheless, Petr N. Yermolov put tremendous efforts to help his pupil become a real artist.

Keywords: Petr ZakharovartistPetr ErmolovChechenAcademy of Artsupbringing


Nowadays one of the research areas in modern historical science and contemporary history of art is the biography of life and the analysis of creative work of famous artists (Hendrickson, 2018; Moshnik & Rusunen, 2018; Ayupova, Kozyreva, & Akimova, 2017).

In historical science there are many gaps in research of life and work of famous artists.

Problem Statement

One of the problematic issues in the study of the life and work of P. Zakharov is the question of the influence of P.N. Ermolov on his formation as an artist.

Several works are devoted to this issue (Kropivnitskaia, 1977; Mazaeva, 1982, 2007; Shabaniants, 1976; Stepanov, 2004; Yakushkin & Yushko, 2014).

In this study, the new facts were revealed that refute the existing ideas about an outstanding artist.

Research Questions

The subject of the research is the formation of Petr Zakharov as an artist during the Moscow period of his life.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the research is to analyze the influence of P.N. Ermolov on the formation of Petr Zakharov-artist in the Moscow period of his life.

Research Methods

The authors used general logical methods and methods for analyzing archival sources. The sources of Written Sources Department of the State Historical Museum (WSDSHM) and Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts (RSAAA) were analyzed. The diary of Petr N. Eermolov was studied in detail. The authors analyzed the materials of record storages of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Pyatigorsk, Grozny, Tbilisi and other cities, where they found new information about the artistic activity of P.Z. Zakharov, as well as more than two dozen of his paintings.


The proclivity of Petr Zakharov for painting was noted by his tutor P.N. Ermolov: “... A strange boy Petrusha! I am talking about my Chechen. In addition to learning literacy, he draws everything that sees. Apparently, he will be an artist and not a bad one” (as cited in RSAAA, file 1, par. 7).

Subsequently, the gift of this boy, his great talent and colossal work were embodied in the monument he created with the name of “Petr Zakharov - Chechen from Dada-Yurt” and in his beautiful paintings and portraits. At the same time, it is impossible not to note considerable concern of P. Ermolov, who not only noticed the natural inclination of Zakharov to drawing, but also put a lot of effort to form him as an artist.

In the found “draft letter of P. Ermolov to Samoilov”, which by indirect evidence can be dated no earlier than 1825, P. Ermolov again appealed to his friend N.A. Samoilov, in order to somehow enroll Pavel and Petr Zakharovs to the Academy, “so often disturb you with my request”. These had troubles begun already in 1825. In fact, in the case of Zakharov, this process of “being enrolled in the Academy of Arts” turned out to be very difficult.

According to Shabaniants (1974), in 1830 “P. Ermolov made a decision and sent his pupil to St. Petersburg to prepare and enter the Academy of Arts, providing him with money, documents and relevant letters to his friends” (p. 101).

The authors suppose that the situation was different. It can be proved even by a letter to the real secret adviser N.V. Shimanovskii, which is dated December 1830. During that year cholera raged in Moscow, and this epidemic is mentioned at the very beginning of the letter. Moreover what is even more interesting, in this letter, P. Ermolov did not mention Pavel Zakharov anymore, it was only about Peter that means that P.N. Ermolov already understood that Petr Zakharov was a character, endurance and talent, and that it was possible to vouch for him: “… I have the greatest request to you, by the compliance of which you will do a good deed! You know my Chechen Petr Zakharov. In 1826, during the coronation, I asked Alexei N. Olenin to enroll him in the Academy of Arts. He told me that this is possible, but firstly I sent him to learn to draw ...” (RSAAA, file 2, par. 11).

Despite the great family trouble, P. Ermolov again petitioned for Petr Zakharov. This concern over the fate of the pupil was expressed not for the first time, not even for the first year. In 1826, taking advantage of the opportunity, during the coronation of the new emperor Nicholas I, N. Ermolov addressed directly to the president of the Academy of Arts, A.N. Olenin. Much time has passed since then, and P. Ermolov appealed to his comrade. It is unknown what N.V. Shimanovskii wrote back the previous letter. However, the letter of P. Ermolov to Shimanovskii to Petersburg on April 27, 1831 (RSAAA), from which we learnt that the family of P. Ermolov, and therefore P. Zakharov, lived at the Stone Bridge, in the house of P. Ermolov. However, the main thing is different. In this letter Petr A. Kikin, a close friend of Ermolov, a relative of the Stolypin and Lermontov was mentioned for the first time. It was P.A. Kikin, until his death in 1834 was helping Zakharov in his studies, and Petr often remembered Kikin in his letters with kind words.

In the early 1830s, Petr Ermolov began active efforts to place his pupil in the artistic field. In the diaries of P. Ermolov for 1831 and 1832 the artist Volkov was mentioned in connection with the preparation of a pupil for the enrollment to the Academy. According to N.Sh. Shabaniants with Volkov taught the boy for more than six years (Shabaniants, 1974). The student works of Zakharov were not found, and there was almost no information about L. Volkov himself, but N.Sh. Shabaniants and G.D. Kropivnitskaia managed to learn something about him. Lev Volkov (1790-1852) was a collegiate secretary. Apparently, he was a self-taught artist. According to Shabaniants (1974), Volkov lived next door to Ermolov. Kropivnitskaia (1977) proved that during that time, in the 1830s, it was not so. They became neighbors only in 1839, when P. Ermolov bought a house on Chernyshevskii Lane.

According to the diaries, it was found that apart from the artist L. Volkov, P. Eermolov also appealed to the most popular Moscow artist, his neighbor Tropinin, with the request to teach Zakharov. In this regard, in the diary of P. Ermolov the following record appeared: “April 18 (1831), Monday. In the morning I visited the artist Tropinin to ask for Petrusha, he did not take students, but advised Dubrovin ... Maslov, who spent a long time. I asked him to write to Kikin, the Secretary of the Society for the Encouragement of Artists about the placement of Petrusha” (RSAAA, file 2, par. 12).

Apparently, Ermolov, following the advice of Tropinin, appealed to Dubrovin, since in subsequent records this name was repeated along with references to the artist Volkov (Kropivnitskaia, 1977). Dubrovin willingly took pupils and taught them, perhaps, to copy from samples. Thus, Ermolov received from Dubrovin the following record “Petrusha is about to copy a portrait of the monarch ... from Dovov ...” (RSAAA file 2, par. 14) and visited him several times with a copy performed by Zakharov.

It is obvious that Petr Ermolov made a lot of efforts so that Petrusha could enter the Academy and become an artist. However, the primary education of Zakharov was not fundamental, and other children had another preparation to the enrolment to the Academy (Ibragimov, 2014, 2018).

According to some researchers, already in 1831 P. Zakharov was in St. Petersburg. “He arrived alone, unaccompanied, although he had letters of recommendation from P. Ermolov, and Ermolov had neither the means nor the health to accompany his pet to Petersburg” (Moleva, 2003, p. 186).

There are no documentary facts confirming this trip of Petrusha to Petersburg in 1831, and it was unlikely to be, because the answer of the chairman of the Society for the Encouragement of Artists P.A. Kikin to Ermolov at that time was as follows: “Nowadays there are big transformations in the Academy ... it is almost impossible to become a boarder. We expect that the reform will lead to the best.”

After that, in early 1832, Ermolov made an attempt to place P. Zakharov to study in Moscow in Kremlin architectural school, the head of which was the secret adviser D.М. Lvov. In this regard in the diary of P. Ermolov a record appeared that many researchers either did not mention at all or changed it completely. Thus, Kropivnitskaia (1977) made the following edition of the notes of Ermolov: “January 28 (1832). In the morning, I visited Kikin, D.M. Lvov was there ... He refused to take Petrusha-Chechen to school, because he is not the son of an official” (p. 335). In fact, the original record is different: “He (Lvov) refused to take Petrusha-Chechen to school, because he is not of noble bloods” (RSAAA)

Nevertheless, Petr Ermolov tried to help the boy become a real artist. According to P. Ermolov in 1832, the whole family already lived in Moscow, in the house of the Strekalovs family. The record continues: “... Tuesday. I went ... to the money changer Volkov, took the paintings he gave to Petrusha ...” (RSAAA file 2, par. 17).

It is obvious that P. Zakharov was already being formed as an artist. He worked a lot, and if his paintings of that period did not reached us, maybe he had not signed them yet - he was young and inexperienced, then we found out from the same diaries that in addition to the copy from Nicholas I portrait by J. Doe, Zakharov in February 1832, copied the portrait of Suvorov, taken for this purpose from D.V. Davydov.

It can be found on the basis of the records of P. Ermolov, that in December 1832, four golden frames were specially ordered for the paintings of Zakharov. During that year Zakharov prepared four works for the Academy of Arts. In addition to copies from portraits of Suvorov and Nicholas I, he made several more copies from paintings, one of them from the work of Greuze.

This fact was reflected in the work of Kropivnitskaia (1977). However, it is unknown where she found a link to the artist Greuze. According to notes of Ermolov, and Kropyvnytskaia also mentioned it, Ermolov took these paintings out for his pupil in the antique shop of money changer Volkov on Volkhonka Street (RSAAA).

In the same period, from December 1832 to January 1833, in the records of P. Ermolov, however, without contact with Petr, A.I. Dmitriev-Mamonov was mentioned who later, as we found out, helped Zakharov in Petersburg. A.I. Dmitriev-Mamonov (1787-1836), a battle artist, one of the founders of the Society for the Encouragement of Artists, founded the Drawing School in 1827, due to which dozens of serf artists received their freedom. We can assume that it was Dmitriev-Mamonov who delivered the works of Petr Zakharov to the Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg, level of his artistic skill was assessed.

Later in the diary of P. Ermolov the records appeared, which in particular, were devoted to the residence permit in St. Petersburg for Zakharov (WSDSHM).

In mid-March in 1833 in the diary of Petr Ermolov the following records appeared:

“I hired a stagecoach and sent Petrusha to P. — 75 rubles ... I gave him 150 rubles. March 27. Monday. Thank God, there is news that Petrusha arrived in St. Petersburg safely, and hope that he will be placed (at the Academy)” (WSDSHM). And in April: “Petrusha safely reached the city” (WSDSHM). These facts were exact because in his first letter from Petersburg on April 27, 1833, Zakharov wrote to the Ermolovs: “... I arrived safely and now thanks God I do not feel sick, today, on the 27th, I will enter the academy” (WSDSHM, par. 16).

It was a fateful moment of the life of young Petr - he was in St. Petersburg, he started independent life, and the main thing in this life was creativity.


The research touched upon the issues of the formation of the artist P. Zakharov during the Moscow period of his life and the influence of his tutor P. Ermolov on this process.

On the basis of the letter to the real secret adviser N.V. Shimanovskii in December 1830, as well as the diaries of P. Ermolov of 1831–1832, in which the artist Volkov was mentioned in connection with the preparation of Petr for admission to the Academy, it was found that the first attempts of P. Ermolov to place Zakharov in the Academy of Arts were made in 1825. In addition to Volkov, P. Ermolov appealed to the famous artist V. Tropinin with the request to teach P. Zakharov. The confirmation of the opinion of some researchers that in 1831 P. Zakharov was in St. Petersburg was not found. Moreover, the response of the chairman of the Society for the Encouragement of Artists P.A. Kikin to P. Yermolov indicates the opposite. In early 1832, P. Ermolov made an attempt to place a pupil to study at Kremlin architectural school in Moscow and only in 1833 he sent Zakharov to St. Petersburg.

A fateful moment started in the life of Petr Zakharov.


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28 December 2019

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Aliev, R., Makhaev, M., Osmaev, A., & Ibragimov*, K. (2019). Moscow Period Of The Life And Creative Work Of The Artist Petr Zakharov-Chechen. In D. Karim-Sultanovich Bataev, S. Aidievich Gapurov, A. Dogievich Osmaev, V. Khumaidovich Akaev, L. Musaevna Idigova, M. Rukmanovich Ovhadov, A. Ruslanovich Salgiriev, & M. Muslamovna Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Social and Cultural Transformations in the Context of Modern Globalism, vol 76. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 1247-1252). Future Academy.