Reading List: Nicolai Fechin

February 6, 2013

See the post for complete details.

Several months ago I went to the Nicolai Fechin exhibit at the Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis. I picked up the following two books in the museum gift store. Even though the exhibit is now long gone they may still carry these books or you can locate them through other booksellers.

Nicolai Fechin (Catalog by Sepherot Foundation for the U.S. Tour)

This book is about 9 x 7 inches (it's not in front of me right now). I purchased it because I like to buy catalogues from exhibits I attend, whenever possible (and if affordable). This catalog is not complete. Many of my favorites from the exhibit are not included. The reproductions, however, are good. I think I may have purchased this book in part because it contained an image not found in the next title.

Nicolai Fechin (The Russian Museum, Palace Editions) ISBN 978-3-86-384-049-5

This is a large coffee table book of the artist's work including text about the artist's life and work. The reproductions in the text portion of the book are generally too small. Too much space is wasted on the page. (A two-column text design with wrap arounds on the images would have used less space for text and allowed larger reproductions. I believe book design should serve the purpose of the book which clearly here must be to show off the art.)

The color plates section contains reproductions which were for the most part faithful to the originals and you can clearly see the mastery in Fechin's brush handling. My recollection of "Lady in Pink" is that she differed significantly in colors in the original from the reproduction, but I can't find my contemporaneous notes—typically I write them directly into the book. Several of his portraits of children are especially crisp and delicate in the focal point areas.

The reason you should buy this book, however, is for the sadly all too short drawings section.

Fechin's draughtsmanship is exquisite. Every drawing should have been reproduced full page. He drew on a pulp-filled paper (that was probably non-archival) and the inclusions in the paper have added an interesting textural aspect to his application of smooth tone and "uninterrupted" line. Some of the sheets, particularly from the U.S. drawings look very much like some version of "Bogus." I am unfamiliar with Russian papers in general, and specifically during his lifetime, so I don't know what he would have had access to there. For me having these drawings was well worth the cost of the book.

    • Carol Breen
    • February 6, 2013

    Hi, Roz, if you love Fechin’s drawings, you may want to take a look at this book:

    I came across the link via artist Sherrie McGraw’s web site:

    All best, Carol (Boston, MA)

  1. Reply

    Carol THANK YOU. I went to see your link and I totally need this book of drawings by Fechin. THANK YOU.

    Then I went to see Sherrie’s site. I don’t know her or her work, but the moment things started moving on her site and I saw her first sketch I loved her work and can see why she would talk about Fechin.

    Thanks for giving me two treats in one!!

    • Carol Breen
    • February 8, 2013

    You’re so welcome, Roz, and very happy to hear it was a good referral for you.

    I discovered Sherrie McGraw through her beautiful book on her drawing philosophy, The Language of Drawing: From an Artist’s Viewpoint. It’s pricey ($55 from the publisher direct), but gorgeously produced and well-worth it, IMO.

    Warmest thanks you for all you do in producing this blog; I’ve been following it for *years*, since the days of your heartfelt “Daily Dots”…! All best, Carol

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