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Ivan Pokhitonov was a self-taught artist who became an active member of the Imperial Academy of the Arts and a member of the Society of Travelling Art Exhibitions or Peredvizhniki. He spent most of his life in France and Belgium and was greatly respected by art lovers as an unrivalled master of miniature painting and a favourite of the famous collector, Pavel Tretyakov. Pokhitonov distinguished himself through his exceptionally detailed, delicate landscapes.
As a young man, Pokhitonov had many different interests. He first went to study at the Cadet School with dreams of having a career as an officer. Later, having chosen to study natural history, he moved to the Moscow Academy of Agriculture, then the Zoology Faculty in Odessa. As a student there he excelled at art, and in 1876 he travelled to Italy to study before moving to Paris, where he achieved the full potential of his natural talent under the guidance of the artist Aleksei Bogoliubov. He spent his later years in Belgium with his beloved sister Anastasia and her family.
The artist's family life was troubled: he fell in love with his wife's sister, Evgenia Konstantinovna Wulfert. In 1893 the fruit of the union, his son Boris, was born. Pokhitonov left a whole series of works to his sister and his son, mostly studies of domestic life depicting their manor, the interior of the house and members of the family, busy with household chores.
The artist's sister Anastasia Pavlovna Lazarevich and his son Boris Ivanovich Wulfert-Pokhitonov were the sole heirs of Pokhitionov's studio. The present works have been kept in the family for many years. They include a portrait of Ivan the Red Soldier who, according to family legend, saved Pokhitonov's life during the First World War. There is also a tender portrait of the artist's nanny, who raised three generations of the Wulfert family and was the inspiration for a whole series of interior studies. Also included in the collection is a unique wooden box which the artist created as a gift for his brother-in-law. This present was carefully kept in the family for many years, passed on from generation to generation. This is the first time that private collectors have had access to these unique works.