Skip to content Skip to footer

Pirosmani Niko

Niko Pirosmanashvili (Pirosmani). 1863. Mirzzaani, Georgia – 1918. Tbilisi, Georgia

N.Pirosmani was born into a poor peasant family in Mirzaani.  From 1870, after death of parents, he was brought up in the family of Kalantarovs, owners of vineyards in Kakheti. He lived at first in Shulaveri, and then – in Tbilisi.  He developed a passion for drawing at an early age though he did not receive   professional education. In 1883 his works saw the artist G.Bashindzhagjan   and   advised him to start to study   drawing. In 1883-1884 Pirosmani studied   typographical business in Tbilisi printing house “Printing business”. In 1888 (1889) Pirosmani, together with the artist G.Zaziashvili,   opened an art workshop in Velyaminov Street, but things were in a bad way   and the artists had to close the workshop. In 1890 Pirosmani started to work as the brake conductor on the Transcaucasian railway. In 1893, because of illness, left the work. In 1994, together with the partner D.Alugishvili, at so-called “the Prickly beam” (Колючая балка),   opened a dairy dukhan and   decorated its facade with own pictures and a signboard. In 1895 the partners transferred the dukhan on “The Soldier’s market” (Солдатский базар).  In 1898-1899 Pirosmani often went in Мирзаани to his sister and began to build a house. He drew much,   created “Mirzaani cycle”, majority of them is lost. 1899 appeared for Pirosmani unsuccessful both in trading business and in private life. He went through much sorrow according  to  death of its small goddaughter Marusja Alugishvili,   refused to marry and quarreled with sister and the brother-in-law. He drank much and ceased to work in the dukhan. In Tbilisi Pirosmani had    no constant residence, instead of a payment for meal he drew pictures and near to the station, in dukhans, sold them. In 1905 in the newspaper”Tbilisi leaflet” the announcement about the tours of “the glorified actress”, Frenchwoman Margarita de Sevr was printed. The legend about unfortunate love of Pirosmani to this woman is connected with her. In 1909 the picture “Actress Margarita”  was created. In 1910 Pirosmani left the owner of the dukhan Bego Jakiev,   refused the rather stable conditions and   moved to live and work in Ortachala, Titishchev’s “Eldorado”. It was the most fertile period in Pirosmani’s creativity, but he soon left   “Eldorado” and began to   sell pictures to earn for life.. From time to time he lived in a small room of the Dukhan “Racha” at Mate Gvimradze. Here his masterpiece “Carouse at Gvimradze” was created. In March 1912, near to the station, in the dukhan the “Varangian”, just arrived on the vacation in Tbilisi artists K.Zdanevich’s and M. le-Dantju discovered Pirosmani’s works.  The friends have desire to discover and collect Pirosmani’s other works. Soon  Ilja Zdanevich joined  them.  Through  these artists M.Larionov   familiarized  with  Pirosmani’s works. In 1913 he published a letter in “The Moscow newspaper” where about Pirosmani and his creativity was told for the first time. In 1913 Ilja Zdanevich arrived to Tbilisi with special mission – to find Pirosmani and he found him in Gogol Street. Zdanevich described some day’s of staying with him in his diarу.  Pirosmani executed portrait of Ilja Zdanevich. On February, 10th 1913 in the newspaper “Transcaucasian speech” Ilja Zdanevich published the article about Pirosmani – “Artist-nugget”.  During this period Pirosmani lived in Molokansky Street, in the dukhan “Kardenakh”, which belonged to Sandro Qochlashvili. In March 1913, at the exhibition of avant-garde art “Target”(Мишень), four works of Pirosmani were presented:” A girl with a glass of beer”, “Portrait of Ilja Zdanevich”, “Still-life” and “Deer” from the collections of M. le-Dantju and I.Zdanevich. In 1914 Ilja Zdanevich published the second article about Pirosmani in the newspaper “Восток” (East). At that time Pirosmani lived at his friend – shoemaker Chinka. Because of shortage of money  he could not buy paints and consequently  returned to painting on  cardboard , ground  of which he  made by mixing of drying oil with soot. In summer he got acquainted with Vazha Pshavela at Ivan Abaev, the owner of hotel “Vladikavkaz numbers” and as a sign of worship to his poetry, presented to him the picture “Funicular”. Having returned from front in 1915, Ilja Zdanevich, together with L.Gudiashvili, A.Bazhbeuk-Melikov and Z.Valishevsky, continued searching and buying up Pirosmani’s works. On May, 5th 1916, on the initiative of Ilja Zdanevich, in his own workshop, in the street Stavropolsk-Mirsky, the exhibition of Pirosmani’works, stored in Zdanevich’s collection, was opened. In the newspapers some positive reviews were published. On May, 15th 1916, at the meeting of the “Society of the Georgian artists” Dmitry Shevardnadze raised the question about buying and finding the information about Pirosmani. On May, 25th Pirosmani was invited to the general meeting of the “Society”. J.Nikoladze, A.Mrevlishvili and S.Kikodze   made   pencil sketches of the artist.  A small financial help was given to the artist and, at the initiative of D.Shevardnadze, on Golovin Avenue, in studio of Edward Klar took photo of him. By the end of May Pirosmani   presented to “The Union of the Georgian artists” the promised picture “Old time wedding in Georgia”.   The reproduction of the picture was published in the newspaper “National Leaflet” with the inscription – Niko Pirosmani – the national artist. The caricature of Pirosmani with an easel in hands, signed by initials Z.G. and the text to it, published in the same newspaper in the end of June 1916, appeared humiliating for the artist. Pirosmani was offended and couldn’t take it, but he continued to work over orders of Sandro Qochlashvili. In October Ilja Zdanevich, in his own house, the Brick lane №13, organized the second exhibition of Pirosmani’s works.  In 1917 “The Society of Georgian artists” again assisted Pirosmani, which was delivered to him by L.Gudiashvili.  It was  his last meeting with the representative of “The Society”. In 1918 Pirosmani for some time worked in Zestafoni, in Douglas’ dukhan. He returned to Tbilisi seriously sick.  A small closet under a ladder in the street Malakansky №29 was his last dwelling. On March, 28th, on the Easter night, shoemaker Archil Majsuradze found him unconscious.  The same night he died in Mihajlov hospital.  He was buried in St.  Nino cemetery on Kukija, on the place of poor and homeless; his burial place is not known. After death of Pirosmani the interest to this person and to his creativity strongly increased.  The value of Pirosmani’s art is immeasurable for the development of Georgian art.  Exhibitions of Pirosmani’s works are organized in Georgia and many other countries of the world.

Niko Pirosmani
Date of Birth1862Date of Death1918Share

Leave a comment