Artist. Acknowledged as one of Russia's greatest landscape painters. His works are noted for their pensive observations of nature, reflected in muted light and melancholy colors. Levitan was born near Kaunas, Lithuania, into a poor but educated Jewish family. They moved to Moscow in 1870, where young Isaac studied at the School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. A brilliant student, he was allowed to continue there on a scholarship after financial setbacks at home. He had his first exhibition in 1877 and won fame three years later when the influential art collector Pavel Tretyakov bought his canvas "Autumn Day. Sokolniki" for his museum. During the 1880s he was associated with the "Wanderers" group of realistic painters. He was elected to the Imperial Academy of Arts in 1897. His notable paintings include "Evening Bells", "Spring Flood", "Over Eternal Peace", "March", and "Moon". Many historians view Levitan's art as his attempt to find tranquility from his troubled psyche. Manic-depressive in his behavior, he never married but had many affairs, some of which prompted suicide attempts. His closest friend for two decades, author Anton Chekhov, used one of Levitan's unhappy liasons as the basis for his story "The Grasshopper" (1892), and the character Treplev in Chekhov's play "The Seagull" (1896) was likewise loosely based on him. Levitan resented these incursions into his privacy but for the most part remained on good terms with the writer. He died of tuberculosis shortly before his 40th birthday. Originally buried at the Dorogomilovo Jewish Cemetery in Moscow, he was reinterred at Novodevichy Cemetery in April 1941. His grave is near Chekhov's.
Bio by: Bobb Edwards