Reading the Newspaper, the Artist’s Father

  • Nicolai Fechin, Reading the Newspaper, the Artist's Father, 1916, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Arvin Gottlieb, 1991.205.9

Nicolai Fechin painted this portrait of his father, Ivan Alexandrovitch Fechin, in Russia, seven years before the artist and his young family moved permanently to the United States. Ivan Fechin was a master wood craftsman and gilder who taught his son traditional Russian folk art carving. Nicolai later used these techniques to redecorate his New Mexico house, hand carving designs on the doors, ceiling beams, window frames, and furniture. The younger Fechin did not make preliminary sketches and instead painted directly from life. In Reading the Newspaper, the Artist’s Father, he employed a technique he developed early in his career to capture gesture and movement, using a palette knife to block in larger strokes of paint. He portrayed his father in a quiet moment of leisure as opposed to hard at work as a craftsman.
The artist must never forget that he is dealing with the entire canvas and not with any one section of it. Regardless of what he sets out to paint, the problem remains one and the same: with his own creative originality, he must fill in the canvas and make of it an organic whole.” Nicolai Fechin, quoted in Stephen L. Good, The Works of Nicolai Fechin at Gilcrease Museum, special issue, Gilcrease Magazine 8, no. 1 (1986)
Reading the Newspaper, the Artist’s Father
17 5814 in. (44.835.6 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Arvin Gottlieb

Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Portrait male – Fechin, Mr. – elderly
  • Recreation – leisure – reading
Object Number
Linked Open Data
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