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The Painter Pasternak
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The Painter Pasternak


Leonid Osipovich Pasternak was born in 1862 in Odessa. In 1885 he graduated form the Royal Academy of Arts in Munich. In 1889 he married the renowned young pianist Rosalia Kaufmann. Their son Boris, the future Nobel Prize winner for the literature, was born in 1890.

A  few Leonid’s works including “A letter from the Homeland” were acquired by the well known collector and philanthropist Paver Tretiakov in 1889.


In 1893 Leonid was introduced to Leo Tolstoy and they remained close friends until the death of the great writer in 1910. Pasternak made numerous sketches and portraits of Leo Tolstoy and his family members. He also illustrated Tolstoy’s novels “War and Peace” and “Resurrection”.


In 1905 Leonid was elected as Academician of the Russian Academy of Arts. He painted portraits of such outstanding cultural and political figures as M.Gor’ky, V.Brusov, V.Ivanov, K.Bal’mont, A.Scriabin, S.Rachmaninoff, I.Mechnikov, P.Kropotkin, and others. The portrait of Leonid’s children (“Congratulation”, 1914) was bought by the Moscow Tretiakov Gallery. As a member of the Peredvizhniki group (1888-1901), Leonid exhibited regularly in Russia and abroad. He was one of the founding members of The Union of Russian Painters (1903-11917) and Exhibition of 36 Painters (1901-1902).


L.Pasternak, his wife and two daughters left Russia in 1921 and moved to Germany. He had two big personal exhibitions in Berlin (1927, 1932). He also continued to work as a portraitist (his sitters included M.Libermann, A Remizov, H.Hauptmann, R.-M.Rilke, S.Prokofiev, M.El’man, A. Einstein and many others).


Pasternak left Germany in 1938 due to the rise of Nazism and settled in England, spending his last years in Oxford. After his death in 1945 his memorial exhibitions took place in Oxford (1958), Bristol, Coventry and Munich (1962), London (1958, 1969, 1974), Moscow (1969, 1973), The Saint Andrew University (Scotland, 1978)  and Tel-Aviv (1984).


Pasternak’s works are exhibited in prestigious museums and art galleries in England, Germany, France, Australia, the USA, and Russia.




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