Konstantin Andreyevich Somov (1869-1939) was a Russian painter and illustrator associated with the World Of Art Movement. He was from a very cultured family; his father was an historian/curator at Hermitage Museum and his mother was a musician. Somov was passionate about art and music from an early age. As a child, he played piano, took voice lessons and painted. He also had a passion for men. When he was 17-years-old had a love affair with writer Dmitry Filosofov, who later became Sergei Diaghilev’s lover.
Somov studied at the Imperial Academy Of Arts from 1888 to 1897. The World Of Art Movement was founded by a group of students at the school to promote artistic individualism and the principles of Art Nouveau. Their motto was “Art For Art’s Sake”. Their magazine, Mir Iskusstva, was highly influential in the art world at the start twentieth century. Diagilev served as Editor-in-Chief, and Somov wrote and provided drawings.
During the 1910s, Somov’s works were exhibited all over Europe, especially popular in Germany. His boyfriend during this era was Mefodii Lukyanov, who he painted many times. They were a couple for more than two decades.
During the Russian Revolution, Somov fled to the USA, but found our country unresponsive to his art. He relocated to Paris, where he lived, loved and painted until his passing at 70-years-old. You can find him at the Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois Cemetery.
In spring 2007, Somov’s painting Landscape With Rainbow (1927) was sold at Christie’s for $7.33 million, a record for a work of Russian Art. I am mostly drawn to his paintings of men, which are remarkable. My favorite is The Boxer (1933), which sold at Christie’s in 2011 for $1.1 million, besting my bid of $111.11.