Dmitry Arkadyevich  Nalbandyan

Dmitry Arkadyevich Nalbandyan

1906 —1993
  • Laureate of the Stalin prize (1946; 1951)
  • Laureate of the Lenin prize (1982)
  • Corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Arts (1947)
  • Honoured artist of the RSFSR (1951)
  • Academician of the USSR Academy of Arts (1953)
  • People's artist of the Armenian SSR (1965)
  • People's artist of the USSR (1969)
  • Hero Of Socialist Labour (1976)
Dmitry Nalbandyan was a prominent Soviet artist of Armenian origin, who has achieved the highest degree of official recognition in his country; a fervent follower of the Socialist Realism genre and a master of a formal portrait, who has depicted many representatives of the Communist Party elite. The beginning of Nalbandyan's artistic career happened to be during the 1930s, the time when active restructuring in the artistic sphere has begun, and Social Realism started to gain its momentum. Nalbandyan has worked in the field of graphics; he painted portraits, still lifes and landscapes as well as created paintings on historical themes. The artist repeatedly returned to the image of Stalin and his biography, which played a crucial role on the way to success and recognition in Nalbandyan's career. In his work, the artist tried to convey the image of the typical Soviet man and reflect important episodes of the life of the Soviet Union, embodying the ideology of the Party and following the appeal for the formation of a new citizen and building a new society within Socialism.

Nalbandyan was born on September 15, 1906, in Tiflis (now Tbilisi) in an impoverished working-class family. His father, a native of Georgia, worked as a stocker in the village of Zemo Avchala, near Tbilisi, and then moved to Tbilisi and started working in the railway workshops. Strong impressions of the fierce struggle of the Transcaucasian Bolsheviks with tsarism, which left such a significant mark on the artist's work, are rooted in the artist's childhood when the Nalbandyan's father was often meeting with revolutionary workers at home. When the boy was studying in the Russian grammar school, his artistic abilities were noticed by the teacher of drawing. His parents were also very supportive of his urge for drawing. Nalbandyan enjoyed copying postcards and illustrations from "Neva" magazine. In 1918, Nalbandyan's father was tragically killed, and in order to maintain a decent financial situation in the family, the boy, as the oldest child, had to leave school and go to work at a brick factory. Despite the hard physical labour, Nalbandyan's interest in art and his desire to draw continued to grow. Thus, having moved to Leninakan in 1920, the young man began to visit the local art classes. Returning to Tbilisi in 1922, he entered the Sklifasovsky preparatory art school. The artist still could not discard the physical labour completely, as he needed to earn his living. Nalbandyan has helped in the studio of a sculptor named Khmelevsky, who supported the talented young man in every way. In 1924, after graduating from the art and labour schools, Nalbandyan entered the Academy of Arts in Tbilisi, where the young artist has become greatly influenced by his outstanding teachers, E. E. Lansere and E. M. Tatevosyan. After graduating from the Academy in 1924, the artist went to work in an animation studio at the film factory in Odessa and then settled in Moscow, where he continued to work at the film studio in "Mezhrabpomfilm". Visits to Moscow and Leningrad, especially to the Hermitage and the Russian Museum, have made a lasting impression on Nalbandyan. The artist was inspired by the works of masters-realists I. E. Repin, V. I. Surikov, A. A. Ivanov, V. A. Serov, and was becoming increasingly confident in his desire to follow the Russian realistic painting tradition in his creative development, despite the popular formalist trend in the art of the 1920s and 1930s in Tbilisi, which goes back to the Paris school of painting and modern Western innovations.

Despite working at the film studio, Nalbandyan never abandoned drawing and painting. In 1936 he participated in the exhibition "To the history of Bolshevik organisations in Transcaucasia" with a painting on historical topic filled with revolutionary mood, which featured Stalin. Nalbandyan has become a regular participant of all major Soviet art exhibitions. During the Second World war, the artist left for Yerevan, Armenia, where he worked in the field of mass propaganda, being in charge of "TASS Windows" and creating posters and satirical caricatures. Nalbandyan has visited the military front more than once, where he collected the necessary material for his paintings. The years after the war were especially productive for the artist, when he continuously worked on his most famous and successful works, being already in the period of his creative maturity. Nalbandyan also enthusiastically worked in the portrait genre at this point in his career: he has depicted many significant figures of Armenian culture. In 1944, the artist returned to Moscow, where he continued to create portraits and paintings with a historical subject matter, in particular, the revolutionary theme, as well as endlessly trying to capture the image of Stalin in his works. The artist's work of 1945-1949 reflects his increased interest in nature. Nalbandyan went to the Riga coast in the winter of 1946 and autumn of 1948, where he created a series of wonderful landscapes, expressing how he was charmed by the local nature. The artist's landscapes glorify the beauty of the Crimea, Caucasus, Armenia, as well as Moscow's countryside. Nalbandyan also brought numerous sketches, studies, and completed works from his trips to Bulgaria, Italy, France, Greece, Spain, Japan and India. In the later years of the artist's life, his personal exhibitions have been successful not only in the Soviet Union but also in the GDR (1972), Finland (1977), Japan (1978), France (1979, 1983). Nalbandyan died on July 2, 1993, in Moscow and was buried at Novodevichy cemetery. The artist's works are stored in the largest museums of Russia: the Tretyakov Gallery, the Russian Museum, the Museum of Modern History of Russia. One of his self-portraits can be found in the Uffizi gallery, in Florence.


Бабенчиков, М., В. (1950) Дмитрий Аркадьевич Налбандян. Москва: Искусство.
Лапунова, Н., Ф. (1968) Дмитрий Аркадьевич Налбандян. Москва: Советский Художник.
Парамонов, А., В. (1986) Дмитрий Налбандян. Альбом. Москва: Изобразительное Искусство.
Толстой, В., П. (1955) Д. А. Налбандян. Москва: Советский Художник.