In Cooper's Workshop, 1914
Oil on canvas
The State Museum of Fine Arts of the Republic of Tatarstan
It can be assumed that the painting “In the cooper’s workshop”, is inspired by Nikolai Fechin’s childhood memories. The future artist’s early years were spent in his father’s workshop where carved altar screens were prodused. It was here that Fechin’s brilliant craftsmanship as a woodcarver came into being. Perhaps the mountains of wood shavings that he saw in childhood also manifested themselves in his painting work — in a whirlwind of long, torn, whimsically twisted, resilient and chaotic strokes?
Nikolai Ivanovich’s father was of modest ambition, mostly caught up in his work, and did not charge his clients sums that reflected the actual value of what he made — his business was unprofitable. The family struggled to make ends meet. When Nikolai finished elementary school, he and his younger brother Pavel did not have decent clothes for the final exams. Help came from a client who needed an iconostasis drawing. Fechin received a commission of ten rubles for his work with great enthusiasm. So, in his new uniform, bought for the first time with money earned from his art, the future artist graduated from school.
Despite the plight of their financial situation, Fechin saw his father as his main moral authority, and the artist retained his love and affection for him all his life. In Russia, the artist painted many of his portraits. Ivan Alexandrovich passed away in 1919. In emigration, Fechin continued to create paintings and sculptures in the image of his father from memory.