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The Tretchikoff Project

The story of Vladimir Tretchikoff as told by Blogger, Cassie Stephens

Posted by Siro N on

The Tretchikoff Project was over the moon with Tennessee based art teacher, Cassie Stephens’ expression of adoration towards Tretchikoff. Here is the short story of Vladimir Tretchikoff as told by Cassie in her blog series entitled ‘What the art teacher wore’:

I have to tell you, Vladimir Tretchikoff's life reads like some sort of long-winded romance/adventure novel. The artist was born on December 13, 1913 (apparently the number 13 played a big part in his life) in Pertropavlovsk, Russia. I had no idea where Pertropavlovsk was but after some googling, I found that it's a peninsula on the far eastern side of Russia. Interestingly, it's the second largest city in the world that is unreachable by road.

Miss Wong.During the Vladimir's childhood, the Russian Revolution broke out causing his parents and eight siblings to move to an area in China that was Russian-ruled. It was there that Vladie discovered his flair for art. His talent eventually led him to Shanghai where he met his wife Natalie and fathered a daughter Mimi.

Balinese Girl.Eventually, Vladie and his fam moved to Singapore where, in 1941, the Japanese invaded and took his wife and daughter. He was not to see or hear from them for five years. Vladie managed to escape by boat that was torpedoed. He eventually found himself with several others, struggling to stay alive on a small life boat.

Chinese Girl.This painting is probably Vladimir Tretchikoff's most famous. But you want to know if he got off of that life boat, doncha? He did, arriving in Java, only to find that the Japanese had already invaded there. He was captured and thrown into solitary confinement for three months. His artistic abilities were actually what set him free. Impressed by his talent, his captors released him.

Balinese Dancer.Once freed, Vladimir couldn't work fast enough. It seemed word got out in Java of his amazing portraits and he had clients out the wazoo. One such client, Leonora Moltema, became a muse of Vladimir's. She's the one featured in many of this portraits of Asian women. It was Leonora that took him to a seance that revealed the whereabouts of his wife and daughter.

Lady from Orient. Eventually, Vladimir found international success. His painting, Chinese Girl, has sold almost as many prints as Leonardo's Mona Lisa. Many write off Vladimir's portraits as kitsch but I find them absolutely beautiful. The artist, who lived to the age of 92, said near the end of his life: Express your passion. Do what you love. No matter what. Gotta love that.


Read Cassie's full post, 'What the art teacher wore #41' here:

Miss Wong, Balinese Girl, Chinese Girl, Balinese Dancer and Lady of Orient.

  • Art
  • Art Students
  • Art Teacher
  • Artist
  • Balinese Dancer
  • Balinese Girl
  • Cassie Stephens
  • China
  • Chinese Girl
  • Java
  • Lady of Orient
  • Miss Wong
  • Mona Lisa
  • Pertropavlovsk
  • Portraits
  • Russia
  • Shanghai
  • Singapore
  • Tretchikoff
  • Vladimir Tretchikoff