Constantin Andreevich Somov was born in St. Petersburg on November 30, 1869 into the family of the senior curator at the Hermitage, artist and art historian, Andrei Ivanovich Somov and his wife, Nadezhda Constantinovna, an excellent musician. The family had a big collection of paintings, etchings, watercolors, big library; the artists were frequent guests in the house. Constantin started to learn to play piano, singing, and painting early.
From 1888 till 1897, he studied at the Academy of Arts, where from 1894
he took a course at Ilya Repin’s
studio. Later he wrote that the first five years in the Academy were a
lost and fruitless time. Nevertheless he took the studies very seriously
and got a number of awards in the academy. The work with Repin can be felt
in some of his paintings of those years, e.g. portraits of N.
Ober, wife of the sculptor Ober (1896), Portrait
of Father (1897), Self-Portrait
future theatre interprener, and Lev Bakst.
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