Nicolai Fechin (1881-1955)
Born on the banks of Russiaís Volga River, Nicolai Fechin was awarded a six-year scholarship to the Kazan Art School, which was founded by his grandfather. Those studies were followed by time at the Imperial Academy of Art in St. Petersburg where his instructors compelled him to depict the often harsh realities of Russian life.
Following his graduation at the academy, Fechin returned to the Kazan School of Art, this time as an instructor, and then continued his own studies at the Imperial Academy of Art in Petrograd (now Leningrad). With great success in school came a welcome scholarship to escape the hard realities of the Bolshevik Revolution for travel and study in Paris, where Fechin was fascinated by the impressionists use of color.
Near destitute, Fechin moved with his wife and daughter to New York in 1923, where after a rough start Fechin was able to find steady work as a popular portraitist. Requiring a healthier, drier climate, Fechin moved to Taos permanently in 1927, where he bought land adjoining an Indian reservation. Fechin is said to have felt a bond with the Native Americans, who he felt were similar to the peoples from the forests of the Tartar region near homeland.
Following his divorce and seven productive and successful years in Taos, Fechin moved to Santa Monica, California, where he was warmly welcomed and cheered by the popularity of his work. Earl Stendahl was quick to recognize Fechinís genius, and invited him to show and teach at his Stendahl Galleries. Nicolai Fechin remained active and contented in Santa Monica until his death there in 1955.