Boris Chaliapin

Russia / Usa / 1904 - 1979 / wikipedia / / /
Sept. 22, 1904 - May 18, 1979

Boris Chaliapin was the son of Russian opera singer Feodor Chaliapin and brother of The Name of the Rose actor Feodor Chaliapin, Jr.

Worked as an artist for Time magazine, for which he illustrated more than 400 covers, from 1942 (Jawaharlal Nehru) to 1970 (Richard Nixon).

In a different country, in another era, Boris Chaliapin would have been a "fine" artist and portrait painter, selling his paintings in art galleries. The son of Feodor Chaliapin, the great Russian opera singer, Boris was raised in a highly cultured environment. He received classical art training in Russia and Paris. He painted a series of portraits of his father and other luminaries from the world of classical music.

By the 1920s Chaliapin already had a considerable reputation as a portrait artist in Russia. But the market for classical painting was dwindling, and Chaliapin ended up exhibiting his work in the foyer of the London Covent Garden Theatre.

Like most born painters, Chaliapin learned to adapt to reality so that he could continue to create art. Making his way to the US, he earned a living in New York City following the path of many 20th century artists with technical skill: he became an illustrator, painting more than 400 cover portraits for Time magazine.

Sitters for Boris Chaliapin’s portraits recall his friendly demeanor and witty banter. When painting Julia Child for Time magazine, he’d take breaks to buy pickle juice for a Russian soup they prepared during their sessions. In the final piece, which appeared on the November 25, 1966 issue, the chef’s head floats on top of a crimson background surrounded by steaming pots and pans, cake molds, and a fish. One critic described it as resembling “the First Apparition in Shakespeare’s Macbeth."...
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Suzan Hamer


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