Alessio Issupoff spent his formative years in Russia but was always much appreciated in Italy, where he settled in 1926 in an attempt to "escape" from his native country, which he loved dearly but where he was forced to work as an artist of the regime.
This painting is part of the Russian repertoire of Alessio Issupoff, who tended chiefly to paint the places and faces of his native land.
Issupoff never lost his ties with his home country.
The impressions that he harboured of his native land are found in his later pictures with an even greater wealth of motifs and an expanded range of subjects.
In painting "from memory", he recreated the Russia that he had left behind: not Soviet Russia, but the prerevolutionary country that he had known in his childhood and youth.
Aleksei Vladimirovich Isupov, known by the Italianised name of Alessio Issupoff, was born the son of an icon carver and gilder in Vjatka (now Kirov).
Young Aleksei picked up the art of painting from the artisan painters who worked with his father, but he soon left Vjatja for Moscow where he enrolled at the School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture.
In Moscow he studied under the Russian national painting masters Valentin Serov and Konstantin Korovin, coming into contact with French Impressionism and subsequently also with genre painting, landscape painting and portraiture. On obtaining his diploma in 1912, he travelled extensively in the Urals and across Turkestan, immersing himself in a colourful and magical environment that was to have a profound impact on his work.
Settling in Samarkand with his wife Tamara Nikolayevna, he was appointed director of the local Committee for the Restoration and Conservation of the city's monuments and works of art. His return to Moscow in 1921, however, marked the beginning of the most troubled period in his personal life. Having fallen on hard times, he ended up becoming an artist "of the regime", in other words painting portraits of ranking Soviet officials and scenes inspired by the Russian Revolution and by the feats of the Red Army.
Afflicted by poor health, he travelled to Rome to undergo treatment in 1926 and his life took a radical turn for the better. Italy became the scene of his personal and artistic renaissance. From the moment he arrived, he attracted the attention and appreciation of both the critics and the public at large – indeed so much so that that very year he was able to hold his first one-man exhibition in the city, to be followed by many more. Enjoying esteem, affluence and freedom of expression, he therefore decided not to return to Russia.
He died in Rome on 7 July 1957 and is buried in the cemetery on Monte Testaccio.