Antokolsky (Antocolsky) Mark Matveevich (1843 – 1902)
Антокольский Марк Матвеевич (1843 – 1902)
Mark (Mordochai or Mote) Matveevich Antokolsky (Antokolski, Antocolsky, Antocolski) was born in Vilno on October 21, 1843. He was the seventh and last child in his large family. His parents were uneducated, poor and very religious. His father was running a tavern and a bar business. He could easily get angry and even cruel. Antokolsky experienced this from his childhood. Later he wrote “I was not loved in my childhood. I was abused by everyone… I don’t remember any care from anyone..”
Even as a child Antokolsky drew anywhere he could – on the table and on the walls, for example. “My father”, – he wrote, – “didn’t understand my passion and never encouraged me, but he severely punished me for it.” When Mark was old enough they sent him to a wood carver for training. The wife of the Vilno governor general, a well-known patroness of the arts, heard about the talented apprentice. Thanks to her assistance Antokolsky was accepted by the Imperial Academy of Arts, where he studied with the other young artists such as Repin, Vasnetsov, Semiradsky, Savitsky and others.
While studying at the Academy Antokolsky became interested in Russian history and literature. In 1870 he completed the statue of Ivan the Terrible. But the professors refused to look at the statue. Then Antokolsky decided to invite the president of the Academy of Arts, Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna, to his studio. She was elated seeing the sculpture and told Emperor Alexander II about the young artist’s work. The emperor visited Antokolsky’s studio and bought the statue for the Hermitage for eight thousand rubles. Following this event the Academy board members changed their minds and awarded student Antokolksy with the official title of an academician for the Ivan The Terrible statue. “I fell asleep poor,” wrote Antokolsky, “and awoke rich. Yesterday I was unknown, but today I’m all the rage.” Shortly after that his name was well known abroad.
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