November 01, 2002

The Artist's Will

Pavel Korin’s life was the embodiment of the Russian samorodok – a self-made artist gifted with an indomitable talent, working with unequalled tenacity to attain his artistic goals.

Born Pavel Dmitrievich on June 25, 1892, in the village of Palekh (Vladimir region), Korin entered a family known in Palekh since the 17th century. Pavel’s father and grandfather were both icon painters—as were many Palekh residents—and that sealed Pavel’s fate. Korin would later note that Palekh boasted a wealth of local talent, but that Paleshans (as residents of Palekh are called) had very short life expectancies. They were hard drinkers and it was unusual for a local artist to drink less than one quarter of a bucketful of vodka (a bucket, or vedro, is 12.3 liters) over holidays. Needless to say, Korin proved an exception to the rule and led a sober lifestyle.

The Korin family house, which stands under beautiful old birch trees, survived the 20th century and now hosts a museum dedicated to the artist. It is a typical Russian izba. There is a huge Russian oven to the right, with a samovar on a copper tray; a hewed wooden divider separates the kitchen from the rest of the house, in which there is a simple table, benches along the walls and shelves with pots, filled with pieces of birch bark for drying mushrooms. Other rooms are decorated with wallpaper; the walls are hung with ancient oil paintings, icons of the Palekh and Stroganov schools, and many bookshelves.

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