Subscribe for newsletters

Keep up with news, tips and latest events with emails from

Choose your language


Name: Pavel Fedotov

Born in: 1815

Country: Russian Empire

Genre: Military art, genre art, portrait




"Fate is as untouched ball of thread – you do not know, smooth or knotty, and how it is long, where is the end of the thread. You do not know anything."

P. Fedotov


"He died when he had just done only a small speck of the wealth, what he was gifted by nature. But this was a grain of pure gold, and then brought great results. "

V. Stasov, a famous russian art-critic


Fedotov was an officer of the Imperial Guards of Saint Petersburg. Like many of his colleagues at the time, he was interested in arts. He played the flute and attended evening classes at the Academy of Fine Arts, where he focused on painting. As a student he was not particularly outstanding, yet, in the Army, he gained a reputation as a regiment painter by his portraits of officers and regiment scenes, though tentatively and almost secretly applied himself to satire.


Although, what would equate to a notable career of the day, the idea of being a regiment painter did not appeal to Fedotov, who understood that a true creative artist should devote himself to art completely and so choosing to concentrate more fully on his painting, he retired himself from the army in 1844 and handed himself over to his artistry. Since his salary within the army was not insubstantial and having to support his family back in Moscow his future, now resting on his creative talents alone would have been somewhat daunting.


He initially used both pencil and watercolor to produce his works, though began to develop a more mature medium by changing to painting with oils in 1846.


Completing a number of pieces using the new medium, most notable the 'Newly Decorated', 'Difficult Bride' and 'Untimely Guest' were full of the satire and critique surrounding the then current social and political order.


Fedotov's works were recognized as a new word in art at the exhibitions of 1849 and 1850 in St. Petersburg and brought the painter success that promised his prosperity and, hence, the possibility to continue his work. Though perhaps identified as his crowning achievement of the period was Major's Marriage Proposal (1851) displaying the maturity with which Fedotov skill had developed.


Unfortunately his close ties to the Petrashevsky social-democratic group who went on trial made him a target of government persecution. Sharing the fate of the many democratic-minded intelligentsia, Fedotov was crushed by the reactionary tide. But before he perished, Fedotov had produced his, probably, best works imbued with a feeling of desperate sorrow gradually growing until it reached its climax in the Encore, Encore!, Gamblers, and Young Widow.


Never recovering from his persecution, after a long period of emotional and mental suffering, he died in a mental clinic 1852.