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 Alexandre Evgenevich Yakovlev  (1887 - 1938)



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Lived/Active: Massachusetts / Russian Federation/France/Africa/Germany/Japan      Known for: nude female figure, portrait, landscape and still life painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Aleksandr Evgen'evich Yakovlev (Russian, 1887-1938) was a Russian painter, graphic artist and designer. His initial training in 1905-13 was at the Academy of Arts, St. Petersburg, where he studied principally under Dmitry Kardovsky. From 1909 Yakovlev contributed regularly to national and international exhibitions, and he was a member of both the World of Art group and the Union of Russian Artists.  He was awarded an Academy scholarship for study in Italy and Spain in 1914-15, an experience that left an indelible mark on his stylistic evolution, as is clear from his recourse to Italian Renaissance devices and motifs in paintings such as his portrait of the Mexican artist Roberto Montenegro and The Violinist (both 1915; St Petersburg, Rus. Mus.)

Just before the October Revolution of 1917 Yakovlev and his close friend Vasily Shukhayev were regarded as the representatives of a new classicism in Russian art, and, in fact, the graphic clarity and materiality of their drawings and paintings bring to mind the contemporary poetry of Anna Akhmatova and Mikhail Kuzmin, leaders of the Acmeist movement. Yakovlev, Shukhayev, Grigor'yev, Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin and other graduates of the Academy of Arts moved in the same circles as these literati, frequenting the cabarets in St Petersburg and contributing to Sergey Makovsky's review Apollon. Artistically and temperamentally, Yakovlev and Shukhayev were very close, and their red chalk and sanguine portraits and figure studies are often remarkably similar to each other. Their collaborative double portrait as Harlequin and Pierrot (1914; St Petersburg, Rus. Mus.) summarizes their mutual sympathy and respect.

In 1916 Yakovlev became a professor at the Institute of Art History in Petrograd (now St Petersburg), and, together with Grigor'yev and Sergey Sudeykin, he designed the interior of the Prival Komediantov (Comedians' Halt) cabaret in Petrograd. After travelling in Mongolia, China and Japan he settled in Paris in 1920. He achieved his reputation in the West as an ethnographical draughtsman: in 1925 he accompanied the Citroën Central Africa Expedition as an official artist and in 1931 did the same for the Citroën Trans-Asiatic Expedition, collaborations that resulted in superb depictions of native types, rituals and scenes.

Yakovlev spent three years as Chairman of the Department of Painting at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, and returned to Paris in 1937.

Sphinx Fine Art

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Alexandre Evgenevich Iacovleff, also spelled Jacovleff, Yakovlev, Iakovlev (1887-1938)

A painter, draughtsman, designer and etcher, he is considered a representative of St. Petersburg Neo-Classicism.  Iakovlev painted portraits and compositions of figures combining some elements of the masters of Italian Renaissance with Russian Primitivism as evident in  Bathing, (1913), Fiddler (1915), The Portrait of Mexican Artist R. Montenegro (1915, all at the State Russian Museum).

His course of life would take him to places far away as Mongolia, China, Japan, Africa, Syria, Iran and Afghanistan, generating a prolific output of  portrait, figure, landscape and genre paintings.

The son of a naval officer, he was born in Saint Petersburg in 1887 and studied at the Imperial Academy of Arts between 1905 and 1913.  While a student, he enjoyed drawing and contributed to art magazines such as Apollon, Satiricon, Niva, New Satiricon and others.  In 1913, he received a scholarship to study abroad and went to Italy and Spain together with his good friend Vladimir Shukhaev.

He returned to Petrograd in 1915 where his works shown at the Mir Iskusstva exhibition garnered mixed reactions and were rejected by the Academy of Arts.  He went on to produce a number of Sanguine drawings and frescoed  Firsanov's mansion in Moscow and the artistic cabaret Prival Komediantov in Petrograd.  Together with Shoukhaev, Radlov and Kardovsky, he organized his own artistic movement, called St. Luke Guild of Painters.

In 1917, Iacovleff received a scholarship to study in the Far East and traveled to Mongolia, China and Japan between 1917 and 1919.  Thereafter, he settled in Paris, France and became a French citizen.  In 1924-1925, he took part in an expedition to the Sahara desert and Equatorial Africa organized by Citroën (Croisi-24re Noire).  His African paintings were a big success and in 1926 he was awarded the Legion of Honor by the French government.  In 1928, he organized a large exhibition of his work in Moscow. He continued living in France and became artistic adviser for another Citroën expedition, this time across Asia.

Iakovleff served as Director of the Painting Department of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, from 1934 to 1937.  After spending the last months of his life on Capri and in Paris, he died in Paris in 1938.

Saint Petersburg Encyclopaedia

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from a review of a biography about the artist by Caroline Haaardt de la Baumethe.  Titled Alexandre Iacovleff: L'Artiste Voyageur, it was published in Paris in 2000.

Born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, Alexandre Iacovleff was in China when the Russian Revolution broke out in October, 1917.  He never returned to his native land.  In the 1920s in Paris, he became famous for his drawings and paintings of the Far East, and in 1924 André Citroën chose him as the official artist for the Croisière noire. This post made him responsible for "capturing with pencil and brush" the manners and customs of the natives encountered during this notable African expedition.

When he returned to France, the public was amazed to discover the African continent both through his portraits of Nigerian sultans and Mangbetu women, and through his landscapes.  Iacovleff's career as a traveling artist had begun.

In 1931, Iacovleff was once more appointed official artist, but this time for the Croisière jaune, through Asia along the old Silk Road.  Through Iacovleff's paintings, notes, and photographs, Caroline Haardt de la Baume-granddaughter of Georges Marie Haardt, the leader of both the African and the Asian expeditions-tells the story of these two extraordinary journeys.  Not only a feast for the eyes, this is also a valuable reference book on an outstanding artist and two exciting adventures.


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