Nikolai FECHIN

Nicolai Ivanovich Fechin (1881–1955) – was a Russian-American painter known for his portraits and works featuring Native Americans.


Nicolai Fechin was born in 1881 in Kazan, Russia. As a child, he almost died from meningitis. His father was a woodcarver and gilder, and the boy learned carving from him. By age eleven, the boy was drawing designs for his father to use in the construction of altars. At the age of 13, he enrolled in the newly established Kazan Art School, a branch of the Imperial Academy of Arts in the capital of St. Petersburg.

Based on his work, Fechin was admitted for further study to the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint-Petersburg, where he studied with Ilya Repin and Filipp Malyavin. During the summer of 1904 he had an influential trip to Siberia, where he was fascinated by the landscape and native peoples. When he returned to Kazan, he often traveled outside the city to capture the rural people and places.

After graduating with the highest marks from the Imperial Academy of Arts and traveling in Europe under a Prix de Rome, he returned to his native Kazan, where he taught and painted. He exhibited his first work in the United States in 1910 in an international exhibition in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
After immigrating with his family to New York in 1923 and working there for a few years, Fechin developed tuberculosis and moved West for a drier climate. He and his family settled in Taos, New Mexico, where he became fascinated by Native Americans and the landscape. His best work while in the United States was of these elements. The adobe house which he renovated in Taos is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is used as the Taos Art Museum. After leaving Taos in 1933, Fechin eventually settled in southern California.

Learn more about Nikolai FECHIN >>