Iurii Pavlovich Annenkov (1889-1975), was a painter and graphic artist, designer for theatre and cinema and master of book design. Born during his parents' exile in Petropavlovsk in Kamchatka, Annenkov enrolled at the University of St Petersburg in 1908, at the same time attending lessons in the studio of Savelii Zeidenberg and Ivan Tsionglinskii, before studying in Paris under Maurice Denis and Félix Valloton.
On his return to Russia, Annenkov became an active member of artistic life in Petrograd. As early as 1913 Annenkov was involved in the theatre, collaborating with Nikolai Evreinov, Nikolai Kul'bin and Ivan Puni, as well as other artists such as Mstislav Dobuzhinskii and Vladimir Shchuko. He also experimented with book illustrations and created designs for magazine covers.
The early years of the Revolution, despite practical difficulties, proved extremely productive for many artists who found the atmosphere stimulating and dynamic. At this time he concentrated on graphic work in particular illustrations for books and satirical journals. In addition, he also planned the decoration of towns for revolutionary mass festivals; participating in the 1st May celebrations in Petrograd and the celebration of the 7th November in Moscow in 1918, and 'The Taking of the Winter Palace' in Uritskii (formerly Palace) Square on 7th November 1921.
However, Annenkov is perhaps best-known for his work as a portraitist, depicting political figures such as Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotskii, Anatoli Lunacharskii, Vladimir Antonov-Ovsenko and Grigorii Zinov'ev, as well as the most influential figures from the Arts, including Maksim Gor'kii, Vsevolod Meierhol'd, Anna Akhmatova, Boris Pasternak and Alexandre Benois. His unique painterly technique based on cubist forms and the vibrant colours associated with the Russian Avant-garde earned him the repuation as one of the most sought-after portrait painters in post-Revolutionary Russia.
Aleksandr Nikolaevich Tikhonov (1880-1956) was a Russian author and noted literary personage. Born in Verkhane-Serginskii Zavod, Tikhonov dedicated his life to literature; first, as a writer under the pseudonymn A. Serebrov, then as a critic, editor and publisher. Together with Maksim Gor'kii, Tikhonov organised the Circle of Proletarian Writers in the newspaper 'Pravda', editing the first and second collections of their works in 1914 and 1917. He also edited the journal 'Letopis' published in Paris 1915-17, and the paper 'Novaia Zhizn' in 1917-18. After the October Revolution he managed the publishers 'Vsemirnaia Literatura' from 1918-24, at the same time editing 'Vostok', 'Russkii Sovremenik' and 'Sovremennyi Zapad'.
From 1930 until 1936 he directed the publishing house 'Academia' and was one of the editors of the series 'The History of Mills and Factories', 'The lives of remarkable People' and 'The Historical Novel' until 1941. During the Second World War he ran the publishers 'Soviet Writer'. Along with Gor'kii and Chukovskyi, Tikhonov founded the famous society Dom Isskusstv (House of Arts), a gathering place for writers and artists. Annenkov was a regular at the Society and met many of the people who inspired him to work on the portrait gallery of his contemporaries here, such as Anna Akhmatova, Boris Pasternak and H.G Wells (fig. 2)
'Portrait of A. N. Tikhonov', painted in 1922, was exhibited at the XIV International Biennale in Venice along with portraits of Trotskii and Viacheslav Polonskii. An exemplary example of Annenkov's unique ability to capture a likeness with gravitas and wit, the present portrait combines draftmanship with artisanal spirit, created by the range of surface textures and sculptural additions. The print in the top left corner is after a painting by Johann Georg Meyer von Bremen (1813-1886) entitled 'Schickalsgenossen' ('Partners in Destiny') and painted in 1855. Shortly after his success at the Biennale, Annenkov emigrated to Paris in 1924 where he remained until his death in 1975.