Victor Mikhailovich Oreshnikov

Victor Mikhailovich Oreshnikov

1904 —1987
  • Stalin Prize winner (1948; 1950)
  • Active member of the Soviet Academy of Arts (1954)
  • People's Artist of the USSR (1969)
Victor Oreshnikov is an acclaimed Soviet Russian realist artist of the post-avant-garde period, Doctor of Art History and Professor, representative of the Leningrad school of painting, a talented portraitist, an artist with traditional views on art that opposed the avant-garde, and a devoted follower of classical art. In addition to portraiture, Victor Mikhailovich worked a lot in the genre of still life and often appealed to history painting. The artist was born on January 20, 1904, in Perm in the family of a lawyer. He was interested in drawing since childhood and was exploring the magazine "Niva", which printed reproductions of paintings by prominent Russian artists, with a certain awe. In 1913, Oreshnikov entered the general secondary school, where drawing classes have acquired a more serious meaning for him. One of Victor's first teachers of drawing was D. F. Nikolaev. In the summer of 1917, the young artist was engaged in studying painting at K. Sedov's lessons, where for the first time Oreshnikov tried to paint with oil. Inspired by local artists and his drawing classes, Oreshnikov decided to become a professional artist, and in 1919, after receiving a certificate of secondary education, he enrolled at the newly opened Art Workshops in the same year. First Victor Mikhailovich studied in the studio of a portrait artist A. S. Shestakov, a graduate of the Academy of Arts, who might have passed young Oreshnikov his strong commitment to the realistic direction in art. Later, the artist has started to visit the studio of decorative painting led by V. I. Ikonnikov. Among Victor Mikhailovich's teachers was a gifted Soviet Russian graphic artist and art historian, V. A. Obolensky. In 1921, the artist's father died, and Oreshnikov's recent appointment as a teacher of drawing in the junior group of the college is just in time to support financial stability in his family. This position, given to such a young artist who is still a student himself, tells a lot about how diligent and hard-working Victor Mikhailovich was, and also how his artistic abilities were standing out among other students. In 1924, graduating from the Art Workshops, which had been reorganised into a college by that time, Oreshnikov received a diploma of artist-decorator. In the same year, the young artist, full of hope and desire to continue his artistic education, relocated from to Leningrad.

Oreshnikov has entered the Leningrad Higher Art and Technical Institute (Vkhutein) (in the future, the Institute of painting, sculpture and architecture named after I. E. Repin) in the studio of K. S. Petrov-Vodkin. However, the devotion to realistic art was already so powerful for the artist that even the ideas of avant-garde trends that prevailed at that time at the Institute and the outstanding, unique style and symbolic trends of Petrov-Vodkin could not affect the aesthetic and ideological preferences of Victor Mikhailovich. The artist called El Greco, Titian and Velázquez his true teachers. Perhaps, these visits to the Hermitage have greatly influenced the formation of Oreshnikov as an established artist even more than an academic education. His works clearly show the admiration of J. L. David, Goya, Géricault, and other brilliant artists of Romanticism movement: heroic and sentimental mood and picturesque motifs in the paintings of Oreshnikov allow the viewer to trace the connection with the great Western masters of the art. In 1926, during his last year at the Institute, Victor Mikhailovich first began to show his work at exhibitions. Also, in the last year of study, Oreshnikov received a tempting offer from the Perm Museum of Revolution to create a series of historic paintings on the topic of the revolutionary movement in the Urals. The artist happily took the commission, and the museum eventually exhibited all the works of this cycle, which Viktor Mikhailovich created. It was the first independent creative work of Oreshnikov, which also gave him a lot in terms of developing his own principles in art and enhancing new techniques and methods. In 1927, the artist finished the Vkhutein, but the academic world will forever remain tightly woven into the artist's life. Since 1930, Victor Mikhailovich began teaching at his native Institute at the faculty of monumental art, and in 1933, he entered the postgraduate course at the Academy of Arts under the guidance of I. I. Brodsky. Oreshnikov joined the Leningrad Society of Soviet Artists in 1932. The artist's teaching activity lasted for 57 years, until the death of Victor Mikhailovich, and influenced a vast number of students of the Academy. In 1937, he received the title of Candidate of Art, in 1948, Doctor of Art, and in 1949, he became a Professor. Academic career Oreshnikov was a great achievement and a solid success: in 1952 he headed the Department of painting and composition, from 1954 he led the studio of painting, and was appointed rector of the Repin Institute of Arts and remained as such until 1977.

During the Second World war, the artist was involved in the creation of campaign panels and political posters, war leaflets and caricatures in his native places, in the city of Molotov. At the end of 1942, Oreshnikov moved to Samarkand, where he joined the teaching activities of the Academy of Arts, which had been evacuated from Leningrad. On the basis of the landscape sketches and sketches drawn at this time, later, after returning to Leningrad after the war, Victor Mikhailovich created beautiful landscapes of the sunny, warm Republic. Viktor Mikhailovich participated not only in all-Union but also in international exhibitions of Soviet art. In 1977 and 1985, his solo exhibitions were held in Leningrad, and in 1979 - in Moscow. In the 1930s, Oreshnikov's art was subject to constant changes and new influences: the trends of French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism affected even such a zealous follower of classical art as Victor Mikhailovich. Oreshnikov is especially known for his historical and revolutionary works and portraits of not only his close people but also remarkable figures of the creative and scientific intelligentsia of the 1940s-1980s. Viktor Mikhailovich died at the age of eighty-three years on March 15, 1987, in Leningrad and was buried at Literatorskie mostky. Today, the artist's works can be found in the State Russian Museum, the State Tretyakov Gallery, the Perm State Art Gallery, the Perm Regional Museum, as well as in various museums and galleries in Europe, Asia and America.

Bibliography: Петербургский художник. [online] Орешников Виктор. Available at:
(1948) Выставка произведений ленинградских художников. 1947 год. Живопись. Скульптура. Графика. Театрально-декорационная живопись. Каталог. Ленинград: ЛССХ.
(1985) Виктор Михайлович Орешников. Каталог выставки. Живопись. Москва: Изобразительное искусство.
Иванов, С., В. (2007) Неизвестный соцреализм. Ленинградская школа. Санкт-Петербург: НП-Принт.
Кузнецов, Ю., И. (2007) Виктор Михайлович Орешников. Санкт-Петербург: Петрополь.