Arnold Borisovich Lakhovsky

Arnold Borisovich Lakhovsky

1880 —1937
Arnold Borisovich (originally Aaron Berkovich) Lakhovsky was an imaginative, fascinating Russian painter, an itinerant emigrant and a follower of the impressionist Alfred Sisley's artistic genius, Professor of watercolour painting at the Higher Women's Architectural Courses in St. Petersburg (since 1912), a member of the Society named after A. I. Kuindzhi (since 1915) and the Association of Traveling Art Exhibitions (since 1916). Lakhovsky worked mainly in the genre of the urban landscape; he sometimes painted portraits and genre paintings; as well as experimenting with graphics and sculpture. Alexander Benois said that "Lakhovsky, who is representative of the school of Russian painting of the postwar period, is one of the best painters of simple visibility, and his place is next to Yuon and Zhukovsky". The artist was leading a bright, eventful life which was imbued among many other things with artistic success in Europe and America, friendship with outstanding Russian painters such as Isaac Brodsky and Konstantin Gorbatov, extensive travelling, including trips across Russia and to Scandinavia, France, Holland, Belgium, the Holy Land, the United States, etc. Arnold Borisovich eagerly absorbed the beauty of the world and traditions of the artistic communities that surrounded him, transferring his impressions to the canvas through bold experiments with light, shadow, brightness and contrast. 

The future artist was born on January 27 (O. S. January 15) in 1880 in a petty-bourgeois Jewish family in Chernobyl, in Radomysl District of Kiev province in the Russian Empire (now the territory of Ukraine). When the boy was ten years old, a tragedy happened — he lost his father. Since the early childhood Lakhovsky showed interest in art, and, subsequently, as a teenager, he was sent to Kiev to study from the artist-decorator. It was not an easy time — the young man lived in a small room without amenities, along with other apprentices and pupils of the artist-decorator. He was often sick, but diligently performed all the tasks and all his spare time was dedicated to practice drawing. In 1897 Lakhovsky presented his drawings to the headmaster of the Kiev drawing school, Nikolai Ivanovich Murashko, and was admitted to school free of charge, where he spent the next six months. However, the plans of the young Arnold was entering the Odessa drawing school, where he proceeded, spending all his modest savings, which he managed to accumulate during his apprenticeship with the artist-decorator — 45 rubles only. A talented young man was able to be admitted in the Odessa drawing school in 1898. But in 1902, after completion of his studies, which were guided by such eminent artists as Kiriak Konstantinovich Kostandi and Gennady Alexandrovich Ladyzhensky, full of energy and enthusiasm, the artist went to Germany. Even while studying in Odessa Lakhovsky was able to get three medals for his drawings. The aspiring artist was on the right track — he continued his artistic education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich — a city that similarly to Paris, attracted progressive, young, ambitious and curious, painters at that time. Despite the apparent innovations in his own works, Lakhovsky devoted much time to the study of the old masters. In Munich Lakhovsky also studied under the direction of a Slovene realist painter Anton Ažbe with David Davidovich Burliuk for some time. He was often painting a lot in the old Jewish quarter of Munich. When the time to return to Russia came, the poor student had no money for a ticket to get home. Fortunately, the captain of the ship, cruising along the Danube, showed kindness and took the young artist on board free of cost. Easy-going, approachable Arnold Borisovich befriended the canteen worker, who fed the artist all the way to Russia without charge. So, two years after his move to Munich, Lakhovsky returned to Russia and settled in St. Petersburg.

In the capital, he entered the Higher Art School at the Imperial Academy of Arts but not without some difficulties. As a Jew, Arnold Borisovich was forced to obtain official permission to stay in St. Petersburg. First, he studied in the studio of Jan Ciągliński, and then, in April 1907, started to study in the studio of the legendary Russian artist, Ilya Repin. The next year, the artist went on a summer vacation to Palestine, where he fell seriously ill. So it happened that the next year and three months he spent in Jerusalem. He taught at the School of Arts and Crafts called Bezalel for some time. However, while absent from the classes of the Higher Art School, where he still counted as a student, Arnold Lakhovsky was expelled. Soon, after some efforts on the part of the artist, he was re-enrolled and attributed to the studio of Pavel Petrovich Chistyakov. Thus, Lakhovsky continued his education in St. Petersburg in 1909. Arnold Borisovich asked to be transferred to the studio of Professor Alexander Alexandrovich Kiselev sometime after his return. In 1910 he first visited Paris. Undoubtedly, France has played a significant role in the work of Arnold Lakhovsky and left a strong imprint on his soul. In 1911, after the death of Kiselev, the artist again ended up in a new studio — this time he became a pupil of Nikolai Nikolaevich Dubovsky, a painter of the Russian landscape school and later a member and one of the leaders of the Society for Travelling Art Exhibitions. Arnold Borisovich spent summer months in Venice, Rome and Ghent. In 1912, Lakhovsky graduated from the Higher Art School at the Imperial Academy of Arts with distinction and was awarded the official title of the artist for the painting "The Last Rays". In the same year, he travelled to Sweden and Norway. Arnold Lakhovsky continued to go abroad many times as well as travelling to the Russian province a lot to draw his inspiration from the various cities that he saw during his journeys. 

In 1914, the landscape "Rainy day" was purchased by the Italian government at the International exhibition in Venice. In November 1915, Arnold Lakhovsky organised the Jewish Society for the Encouragement of Arts and joined its audit committee and the Council of the art section. He also participated in art auctions for Jewish victims of the war. In the same year, he received the prize of the competition named after A. I. Kuindzhi for the painting "In the Shoe Workshop". In the period from 1911 to 1916 Arnold Borisovich was awarded by the Society for the Encouragement of Arts five times. Reproductions of works by Arnold Lakhovsky were published in such well-known magazines as "Niva", "Ogonyok", "Vershini", "Solnce Rossii" and others. The artist's career was rapidly advancing, but in 1916 Lakhovsky was drafted into the army as a warrior of the 2nd category of the 180th infantry reserve regiment and enlisted in the trophy commission. Thus, in 1917, Arnold Borisovich was on the Caucasian front and visited Baku, Tiflis, Erzurum, Trapezund.

In autumn, the artist returned to Petrograd. In general, the work of Arnold Lakhovsky has always been in the public's eye, and even a brief absence from the capital and, subsequently, the art world, did not hurt his career. He began to participate in significant exhibitions in 1904 when he showed his works at the Spring exhibition in the halls of the Imperial Academy of Arts, where he regularly exhibited his works since then until his departure from Russia. Arnold Borisovich also participated in the "Salon" of Vladimir Alekseevich Izdebsky (1909-1910), in the shows of the Association of South Russian Artists (1910), in exhibitions of the Wanderers (annually in the period from 1912 to 1918), in the displays of the New Society of Artists (1913 and 1915), the Association of Independent artists (1916) and others. In foreign lands, his work became known first at the exhibition "British, French and Russian artists" in London in 1912. And upon his return from the war, the artist participated in the first exhibition of the Society named after A. I. Kuindzhi in October 1917, then in the display of paintings and sculptures of Jewish artists in Moscow in 1918, in the first State Free Exhibition of Works of Art in 1919, at the exhibitions of the House of Arts in the period from 1920-1921, at the shows of the "Mir Iskusstva" (the "World of Art") in 1922 and 1924, and exhibitions of 16 Artists from 1922 to 1924, where Lakhovsky was also a founding member of the Society, at the shows of the Community of Artists in 1921-1925, at the exhibitions of The Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia in Moscow in 1924 and 1925, at the "Exhibition of Petrograd Artists of all directions for the five-year period of activity 1918-1923" in 1923 and many others. Arnold Borisovich organised his solo exhibition at the Petrograd House of Arts in April-May 1921. In 1924-1925 he was a participant of the travelling exhibition of Russian art in the USA set up by the People's Commissariat. In 1925, Lakhovsky created design and illustrations for "Moidodyr" written by Korney Chukovsky and published by the children's publishing house "Rainbow", as well as for the "Fugitives" by Nikolay Chukovsky, and his own two books titled "For the little ones" (issues 1 and 2). 

Apparently, the artist did not accept the revolution that changed his native country so dramatically. In 1925, Arnold Borisovich departed for Paris at the invitation of the Luxembourg Museum and remained in exile until the end of his days. In the autumn of that year, he was painting en plein air etudes in Brittany with Boris Dmitrievich Grigoriev. Indeed, fame and fortune accompanied the artist abroad: he held solo exhibitions in the Parisian galleries Tédesco (1926), where he showed his landscapes of Petrograd, Pskov, Novgorod and Brittany, and also in J. Charpentier (1927, 1928, 1930) and Lyon (1933). Lakhovsky also arranged open exhibitions in his studio. He participated in exhibitions of Russian artists in Brussels (1928), Copenhagen (1929), Berlin (1930), Belgrade (1930) and Paris (Quatre-Chemins, 1928; d'Alignan, 1931, and La Renaissance, 1932). His works were shown in Paris salons: Autumn (1928, 1929), Tuileries (1929, 1930, 1932) and Spring (1932). The Luxembourg Museum purchased four works of Arnold Lakhovsky. In 1931, Lakhovsky became a founding member of the Masonic Lodge titled "Free Russia". The artist continued to lead an active cultural and organisational activity: n 1933 he was on the Board of the Artists' Section of the Union of Russian artists in France.

Arnold Borisovich left his wife Eugenia in Paris and the same year went to New York in order to manage his solo exhibition, which later successfully took place in the following year, 1934, and was a tremendous commercial success for the artist. Being in America, Lakhovsky, mainly, earned a living by painting portraits to order. Together with Boris Grigoriev and Alexander Yakovlev, he taught at the Art School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 1935. The artist never returned to Europe. As a consequence of acute leukaemia, complicated by bilateral pneumonia, the artist died in the hospital Beth Israel at the age of fifty-six on January 7, 1937, in New York and was buried at the cemetery Beth David (Beth David) in Elmont on Long Island. In October 1937 at the Paris gallery J. Charpentier a memorial exhibition was organised, which showed views of Petrograd, Pskov, Venice, Normandy, Belgium, the Alps, lake Anesi, and on November 29, 1937, in Paris, an evening dedicated to the artist was arranged. Today, the works Arnold Lakhovsky are present in the State Russian Museum, the State Tretyakov gallery, as well as in many other museums in Russia, Ukraine and France. 

Bibliography: (n.d.). Искусство и архитектура русского зарубежья - ЛАХОВСКИЙ Арнольд Борисович (Арон Беркович). [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 May 2019]. (n.d.). ЛАХОВСКИЙ Арнольд Борисович — Российская Еврейская Энциклопедия. [online] Available at:ЛАХОВСКИЙ_Арнольд_Борисович [Accessed 14 May 2019]. (n.d.). Художники - Музей русского импрессионизма. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 May 2019].

Гармаш, Т. (2014). Лаховский. 1st ed. Москва: Астрея-центр.