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I read the Vasari's "Life of the Artists" early and could tell the difference between between Filippo Lippi and Luca Signorelli. I painted landscapes in oil imitating the masters of the Renaissance.  
                                                                      Nikolai Smirnov
  • 1938 - Nikolai Smirnov was born in Moscow on 16th September. His Father, Nikolai Nikolaevich Smirnov, worked at Military Headquarters as  a war consultant.  Half year after his son's birth he was being accused of fabricated crime, arrested, sentenced to death and soon after - executed.  His mother, Irina Alexandrovna, who had served at the same headquarters as a typist, was soon also arrested and sent to the labour camp. Their six months old baby was placed into a special  orphanage for children of the so called "Nation's' enemies".

  • 1939 - After little Nikolai has got ill with dysentery at the orphanage he has been given to his maternal grandmother Olga Ivanovna Napevkina who looked after the child since then and brought the child up.

  • 1940 - Nikolai's mother Irina returned from the labour camp, however until the end of her life she could never get rid of the existential fear.

  • 1946 - Nikolai started his studies  at the Moscow Secondary School No 12. He often spent evenings in the Bolshoi Theatre where his maternal uncle Alexander Olenin worked as a pianist at Ballet rehearsal classes and supplied his nephew with free theatre admission passes. Since then Nikolai's love for opera became a devotion and later he put on a wast collection of musical records from all major classical operas.

  • 1957 - After finishing school Nikolai began studying medicine at The Medical Institute following his mother's advice.

  • 1959 -  He however has soon realised that the medical path was not exactly what he wanted in life, so he left the Medical Institute for the Languages and Culture Faculty of the Moscow State University to be qualified as an art historian. Later he will be describing his student years there as his most happiest.

  • 1961 - Nikolai married his university peer Elena Vasiutinskaya.

  • 1963 - Their daughter Maria was born.

  • 1965 - in June Nikolai graduated from the Moscow State University with the diploma work "The creative work of Van Gogh". Whilst working over his diploma he copied in oil several works by Van Gogh from the collection of the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts (incliding "Red Vineyards. Arles"). In August Nikolai started to work as a junior researcher at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts.

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