Easter Procession: Illarion Pryanishnikov

Andréa Fernandes

Since tomorrow is Easter Sunday, today's "Feel Art Again" post features Illarion Pryanishnikov (1840-1894) and his "Easter Procession" (1893).

1. For 21 years (right until his death), Illarion Pryanishnikov taught at his alma mater, the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. One of his pupils was Konstantin Korovin, who was also a relative of his. The generous Pryanishnikov also paid the way for Marianne von Werefkin (a Russian painter who was later active in Switzerland) to attend the school.

2. In 1839, the cornerstone was laid for the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, although the building was not completed until 1860. Decoration of the Cathedral—the tallest Eastern Orthodox church in the world—continued for another 20 years by top Russian artists, including Pryanishnikov and Vasily Perov. Unfortunately, the Cathedral was demolished in 1931, just 51 years after the decorations were completed.

3. Pryanishnikov was one of the founding members of the Peredvizhniki, also known as "The Wanderers" or "The Itinerants." The group of Russian realists banded together in protest of academic restrictions to form their own cooperative; the group later evolved into the Society for Traveling Art Exhibitions. After the Peredvizhniki's second exhibition, Pryanishnikov served as their director.

4. Pryanishnikov first became known while he was still in school, when his "Jokers: Gostiny Dvor in Moscow" set off a storm of indignation among "adherents of official academic art." The 1865 painting depicts a petty clerk performing for the amusement of merchants. (Look closely, and you'll see the clerk making "bunny ears" on a drunk.)

A larger version of "Easter Procession" is available here. Fans should check out the collection of Pryanishnikov works on Wikimedia. "Feel Art Again" appears every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. You can e-mail us at feelartagain@gmail.com with details of current exhibitions, for sources or further reading, or to suggest artists.