At his 1993 exhibition, Nikolai Timkov, one of the most important Russian landscape painters of the 20th Century revealed himself as a deeply sympathetic artist. He was viewed as a composer arranging colors whose sounds vividly echo symphonies by Kalinikov and Borodin. The exhibition celebrated his life’s work, as he died shortly afterwards. This last show was the monumental summation of an honored painter. The public in attendance was shaken with the integrity and wholeness of his artistic outlook, his perceptions, and his consummate spiritual awareness. It signified the emergence of a classic Russian artist whose works are viewed as those of a highly distinguished and original master.
Born in on the steppes of temperate southern Russia in 1912, Nikolai became a student at the Rostov Art College in 1927 and graduated in 1930. He then traveled to Moscow where he attended the Academy of Arts at the invitation of famous academician and painter, Isaak Brodsky. Brodsky’s influence bound him to the best traditions of Russian art of the late 19th and 20th Centuries. Timkov graduated in 1939 as a professional painter and then, in accordance with the law, was immediately called up for military service with the Russian Navy, serving until 1946. His service to his country took him through World War II.
Military service and the war behind him, Timkov’s career was highlighted by several major one-man exhibitions prior to his last. The shows represented extended periods of his artistic work and became important stages of his growth both spiritually and artistically. Throughout this time, he formed his unique approach to landscape painting, which has become known as “the Timkov style”, discernible through his compositional peculiarities, artistic solutions, palette and characteristic brush work.
Timkov traveled extensively through west central Russia and was particularly fond of the landscape there. His landscapes, always concrete in detail, are also generalized by symbolic meaning. His temples and monasteries tower grandly towards the heavens and are secure structures full of pride seeming to crown the beauty of the landscape. Villages and wooden huts appear to cling to Mother-Earth as if drawing warmth from her. They become blurred against the background of trees and bushes as though trying to wrap themselves in the snow. His keen eye allows us to be aware of every tree, branch and twig, whether hidden beneath the lace of snowflakes, covered in the transparent ornament of spring foliage, or standing in severe winter nakedness.
Nikolai Timkov, sometimes referred to as the “Dean of Impressionist Art”, is hung in some of the most exclusive public and private collections throughout Russian, the United States and Western Europe.