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How a rebel artist became an academic and teacher of the Tsar’s children: Karl Lemoch

The year 1863 can be defined as a landmark for the future development of fine art in Russia. It all started with the”revolt of the fourteen.” Fourteen students of the historical class preferred the realistic style to the classical, propagandized direction of the Academy and left the walls of the institution. One of these artists was Carl Lemoch.

According to V. V. Stasov: “These young people were all extremely insufficient-it means that they were dependent from head to foot and obliged to tremble for their future, and yet, risking this future, they prefer to lose their reward and the prospect of traveling abroad, just not to perform what is repugnant to their artistic conscience.” And they all lost the gold medal…Both a rebel and an academic.
Kirill Vikentievich Lemoch, also known as Karl Lemoch, was — as we now say-an ethnic German and became famous as a Russian genre painter. In 1858, he entered the Imperial Academy of arts, where he studied the history of painting with Peter Vasin and Alexey Markov. Five years later, in 1863, he took part in the”revolt of the Fourteen”.

Without receiving a medal, Lemoch graduated from the Academy with a second-class artist’s degree. Later, he joined the Artel of artists under the leadership of Ivan kramsky. Five years later, he again entered the Academy, studied very successfully, by the way, and later became a first-class artist. Lemoch’s biography is a complete contradiction: having rebelled against academism in his youth, He still became an academic in adulthood. He was even awarded a gold medal for the painting “Moses exudes water from the rock”. In fairness, we must say that the “revolt” turned out to be a completely unexpected side for all the rebels: 8 people out of 14 still became academicians of painting, and Karl Lemoch was even invited to the Palace to teach the Emperor’s children.
Teacher of the Imperial family
From this point on, he earned a living by giving drawing lessons to aristocratic families, and also built an art Studio in hovrino, where he spent his painting work in the summer. Especially significant was the service as a teacher of painting in the Royal family: Lemoch taught lessons to the children of Alexander III. It was at court that his name was changed: Karl Lemoch became Cyril Lemoch, so it was accepted. “When the court needed a teacher, because of his German origin, his neatness and delicacy and direction in art, he, like no other artist, came closer to this role. At court, he was renamed from Charles to Cyril and assigned to teach the children of Tsar Alexander III. Lemoch found Alexander II, who came to the lessons of the grandson of Nicholas, the future Tsar Nicholas II, and honored the teacher with his own

conversations. Alexander II, who addressed the” you ” even with the highest ranks, for some reason said to Lemoch “You””, – Minchenkov Ya. D. “Memories of the Peredvizhniki”.
For the training of the Grand Dukes, the artist received a lifetime pension, which allowed him to spend the rest of his life without needing funds. Among all the children of the Tsar, the best student was Olga Alexandrovna, who retained an interest in art until the end of her life. During her long life in Denmark and Canada, she painted more than 2000 paintings.

By the way, according to the memoirs of contemporaries, Lemoch was the only one to whom Alexander III addressed in the Palace on “You”. Karl Lemoch was described as an infinitely honest, delicate, and good-natured man. If unpleasant rumors or gossip reached the artist’s ears, something bad about someone – he waved them off with the words: “it’s nothing, everyone just talks, Yes, sir! they talk, and he’s a fine man!”.
Children have become a Central theme in Lemoch’s work. They write them even when they are first born. This is the picture of “New acquaintance”. In this peasant family there was a happy event – a baby appeared.
The interior corresponds to an ordinary peasant hut of the XIX century (homemade furniture, linen bedspreads, peasant clothing). Thanks to the picture, the modern viewer sees how flax and linen canvas were used in various ways in the peasant life. Flax meant as much to ordinary people as bread. He dressed, decorated, and was part of the home, and treated, and protected from adversity.In the story of Lemoha, a newly-made (but already with many children) mother is resting on the bed. The viewer sees the most interesting moment in this event: the introduction of older children to the baby. A significant place in the artist’s work is occupied by images of children, whom he portrayed with love and knowledge of child psychology. The first girl is already looking curiously into the cradle, a woman (probably a midwife) shows her the newborn and carefully opens the curtain. The other four are quietly waiting for their turn in the door. It is noticeable that they are somewhat confused. All the characters are barefoot, lightly dressed, which means that the newborn was born in the summer. Viewers probably know that in Russia long ago gave birth at home, often-just in a curtained corner (“Kut” or in a bath, slightly heated). It was believed that home warmth would help a woman relax. The bed of a woman in labor or the floor is covered with hay or straw, referring to the fact that the mother of God also gave birth on straw. And, by the way, on the wall we see an old icon (with four icons). Lemoch’s painting is a reflection of the peasant identity, almost a historical document about the realities of peasant life and such an important event as the appearance of a new family member.

The name of Karl Lemoch will forever remain in the history of Russian art of the XIX century as the name of an honest, decent, respected realist painter who decided to depict the pure everyday reality and folk life of his own free will.

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