Pyotr Zakharov-Chechen. Self portrait
The fate of Peter Zakharovich Zakharov-Chechen is inextricably linked with the terrible assault on the village of Dadi-Yurt. This topic is heavy and potentially explosive, because many ethnically engaged historians try to use it in political games and cultivating the growth of social tension. They succeed for the reason that the modern layman, living in the virtual world of so-called mimicry, cannot for a moment imagine either the realities of 19th-century society, or that legal world that is very far from modern norms. In addition, many facts in this stories deliberately hushed up and missed.
Assault Dadi Yurt
Dadi-Yurt was a very rich village. Up to two hundred capital stone houses surrounded by no less powerful hedges. Almost every inhabitant of the aul was armed, which was required by their craft. Indeed, the wealth of Dadi-Yurt was not based on cattle breeding or farming, but on business quite legitimate for that mountain society - raids. Oddly enough, but robbery in those places was as widespread and legitimate as the slave trade in the lands of the Circassians. Forcing the Terek, the warlike inhabitants of Dadi-Yurt fell upon the Tere villages, taking people into slavery and stealing cattle and horses. Numerous peace treaties concluded with the residents of Zerechye were easily violated.
The last straw of patience of General Alexei Petrovich Ermolov, who was already serving in the Caucasus then, was the theft of a large herd of horses, which, according to one source, turned up to two hundred cavalry into infantry. A plan of reprisal, i.e. military expedition, which aims to punish the enemy, redress and liquidation of the enemy base. Such practice was then generally accepted and quite legal.
Before the assault on September 14, 1819 (according to the old style), on the orders of Ermolov, the inhabitants of the aul were offered to voluntarily leave away from the Terek, and hence from the Cossack Terek villages they ruined. The obstinate mountaineers refused, a bloody assault began. Each house turned into a fortress, which had to be taken using artillery. Even the women of the aul fought fiercely, rushing at the Cossacks and soldiers with a dagger in their hands. A bloody meat grinder was going on.
Many women were executed by their own husbands right in front of the Russians. They became hostages of a rumor deliberately cultivated for political purposes that the terrible Yarmul, the so-called Yermolov, ordered the selection of beautiful Chechen women, and the sale of unattractive young ladies to the Dagestan Lezgins a ruble apiece.
And in the evening, when the aul was aflame, and hundreds of bloodied corpses of mountaineers, soldiers and Cossacks lay around, Russian soldiers found a crying boy in one of the houses broken by battles. The boy was terrified, so a soldier named Zakhar took him away from this terrible place. It is this soldier who will accept the child for education. It is generally accepted that Zakhar was a Cossack by the name of Nedonosov, however, recent research shows that Zakhar was a soldier, and the surname attributed to him is not found at all in historical documents.
There are also different colors in the date of birth. Most often indicate that Peter Zakharovich was born in 1816, but this date is taken from the ceiling. Just one of the soldiers who discovered the child said that the boy looked no more than three years old, so the soldier’s assumption was the birth date of the future artist.
In the Yermolov family
The boy was baptized in 1823 in Mukhrovani, which is 30 kilometers east of Tiflis. At baptism, he received the name Peter, according to one version chosen by Yermolov himself, who took an active part in the fate of the peculiar "sons of the regiment." After all, Peter Zakharovich was not alone. Under Ermolov many children grew up, who were orphaned due to the endless Caucasian war. Officially, they were still being watched by Major Ivan Ivanovich Simonich.
Formally, the children were considered prisoners, but this, true, is the only case in history when prisoners were given shelter, clothes, food, and most importantly, an education that was unusually difficult and expensive at that time — as a ticket to life. For example, during the capture of the same aul Dadi-Yurt, a two-year-old boy “brought up” by Baron Rosen was “captured”. Later this boy will become a famous Chechen poet and will rise to the rank of college assessor under the name of Konstantin Mikhailovich Aibulat.
Portrait of Peter Ermolov by Peter Zakharov
In Tiflis and Mukhrovani, Peter spent about five years, brought up by Zakhar and Alexei Yermolov himself. After these five years, in 1824, the guy was transferred directly to Yermolov, but not to Alexei Petrovich, but to his cousin - Pyotr Nikolayevich, at that time colonel, commander of the Georgian Grenadier Regiment. Peter was single and did not have children, so he was glad to such an adopted son and called him only affectionately Petrusha. Ermolov quickly noticed that while learning to read and write, Petya constantly draws everything that comes to hand.
Noticing this creative inclination of the “son”, Ermolov began to bombard all possible authorities and comrades with letters asking them to accept Petrusha to the Imperial Academy of Arts of St. Petersburg. Unexpectedly, Pyotr Nikolayevich ran into the wall of the Academy’s charter of those years, which forbade serfs and foreigners to be trained. But such a trifle could not stop the hero of the war of 1812 and the Caucasus. During the coronation of Nicholas I, he asked to pay attention to the gifted boy to the president of the Academy, Alexei Nikolayevich Olenin, who advised first to give the boy a professional painter to test skills. Finally, Ermolov, coming from a noble family, raised all his ties, and soon the Society for the Encouragement of Artists took Zakharov under his care, and he went to Petersburg.
Armenian Nersesov and Chechen Zakharov. Figure M.I. Scotty
At about the same time, Yermolov's health began to fail. Affected by many years of campaigns and endless war. In 1827, at the age of forty, Yermolov submitted a letter of resignation and moved to the Moscow Region, where he devoted himself to his family. However, he did not for one minute lose touch with Zakharov, keenly interested in his affairs and consisted in correspondence not only with him, but also with Alexander Ivanovich Dmitriev-Mamonov, who took custody of Peter Zakharovich in the capital.
In 1833, Zakharov finally entered the Academy, where he studied extremely well, earning a number of praises to the joy of Yermolov. Already in 1836, Peter was preparing for his first academic exhibition. According to some reports, this was a work on the national theme “Fisherman”. The exhibition, consisting of almost 600 works by various authors, was visited by Nicholas I himself and his wife. Among the works he noted was the work of Zakharov.
Chechen is a free artist
Already on August 10, 1836, the Council of the Academy awarded Zakharov the title of free artist. And in February 1837, the artist received the official certificate of the Academy. Peter immediately notified the adoptive father that he was now engaged in custom-made portraits and was already giving painting lessons himself. Despite the impressive list of portraits, few of Zakharov’s works have reached us. Also, despite their number, the young artist still needed money.
Children of Peter Ermolov. Pyotr Zakharov-Chechen
During this period, Zakharov signs his work in different ways, apparently, sometimes feeling loneliness, because I had to move often. So, there are simply signatures of Zakharov, Zakharov-Chechen and even Zakhar Dadayurtsky. In 1939, Peter visited his adoptive father and painted a group portrait of his children. This picture clearly shows the fraternal atmosphere in which Zakharov grew up. Peter loved his “brothers and sisters” very much, always speaking with tenderness about them. Here is how he wrote to Ermolov and his children in those days:
“I pray to God for the extension of your days and your entire family, Katerina Petrovna, Nikolai Petrovich, Alexei Petrovich, Varvara Petrovna, Nina Petrovna, Grigory Petrovich! To your whole family of good health and good achievements in science, it was nice to know the successes in drawing of Nikolai Petrovich, Katerina Petrovna and Alexei Petrovich, they sometimes promised to send their works ... "
By the 40th year, Zakharov’s financial situation had become difficult, and he joined the Department of Military Settlements as an artist, working on illustrations for the publication “Historical Description of Clothing and Arms of the Russian Forces with Drawings Compiled by Highest Order: 1841-1862”. In that year, he completed more than 60 drawings of uniforms and weapons of the Russian army. At the moment, just over 30 of his works of that time have reached us. Having adjusted his finances in this way, he applied to the Council of the Academy of Arts to receive a program for the title of academician. At the same time, he was forced to leave the capital for health reasons.
The famous portrait of Alexei Ermolov by Zakharov
At the end of April 1842, Zakharov-Chechen came to Moscow, settling in the house of his adoptive father in 236 Chernyshevsky Lane. It was during the “Moscow” period of his work that Peter Zakharovich would write, truly, his most famous work, thanks to which every reader of these lines Without knowing it, I am familiar with Zakharov in absentia. This is a portrait of General Alexei Petrovich Ermolov. The very portrait in which the stern general looks menacingly at the viewer against the backdrop of the darkening Caucasus Mountains. This portrait was the very program for obtaining the title of academician.
Pyotr Zakharovich Zakharov-Chechen became the first artist-academician of Chechen origin in history. The future seemed cloudless, but fate had its own evil plans ...
The barely begun family life, which promised happiness, quickly broke off. Back in 1838, Zakharov painted a portrait of Alexandra Postnikova. And upon arrival in Moscow, he quickly got along with the Postnikov couple. Soon, he began an affair with Alexandra. January 14, 1846 in the Church of the Intercession of the Virgin in Kudrin, Zakharov married his beloved woman. Ermolovs, led by Alexei Petrovich, were also present at the wedding.
Group portrait of the Postnikov family. Pyotr Zakharov-Chechen
Alas, the misfortune fell on a young couple a few months after the marriage. Alexandra fell ill with consumption, i.e. tuberculosis. Despite the cares of doctors, and she was also from a family of famous Moscow doctors, her beloved wife died. Almost immediately, Pyotr Zakharovich also lied. Woe from the loss of his wife and forced inaction, when the hand could not hold his hand, they killed the artist faster than a damned disease. After all, Zakharov worked all his life, and vegetation for him was unthinkable. The last days of his brightened up only by communication with the "brothers and sisters" Ermolov, because Alexey Petrovich was constantly busy in the State Council, and Pyotr Nikolaevich had already died.
On July 9, 1846, an outstanding artist of his time, who greatly enriched the culture of the Russian Empire with excellent works, died. They buried Zakharov-Chechen at the Vagankovsky cemetery under a tombstone with his wife.
Life after death
After death, creators begin to live in their creations. Zakharov is no exception. Only in this sense he was unlucky several times. In 1944, when the deportation of part of the Chechen and Ingush peoples began, in some kind of doctrinaire ideological impulse or wanting to curry favor with the authorities, cultural officials began to delete the name of Zakharov-Chechen from catalogs, and some works were ascribed to other authors. Now it is very difficult to restore historical justice.
Zakharov’s work also suffered during the war in Chechnya. As early as 1929, several paintings by Zakharov were sent from the Tretyakov Gallery to the Chechen-Ingush Museum of Local Lore in Grozny. During the first Chechen war, the terrorists turned the museum building into a fortified area with all the ensuing consequences. When the positions were abandoned, the museum remained in ruins, which the militants also mined. So the work of Zakharov disappeared.
The same fate was shared by the paintings of Peter Zakharovich, transferred to the Museum of Fine Arts of the city of Grozny in 1962. Now they are all wanted, and from year to year they come up at foreign auctions, where they are sold for millions of dollars.