Gregorius Maltzeff (1881-1953) was an internationally well-known and appreciated Russian artist who was born in Talashmanovo along the river in western Russia-the Volga. He was born on the 27th of November,1881.
Gregorius’s story began at the age of 16, a time in his life that proved to be the most gruelling time in his entire life. He enrolled in the military with the Fluvial Navigational School where he met the Nobel brothers; (whose family instituted the famous Nobel Prize). The south-eastern Russian town of Astrakhan was his golden key. Here had studied Asiatic types; Tartar, Kampuchea, and Chirghisi. His talents were unrecognizable, but it wasn’t long before they noticed it; soon captains and engineers were ordering portraits. They then introduced him to the owner of the Emanuel Nobel Company, which brought him fame.
This change of direction attributed to his long and fruitful career as an artist; for Russia, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria, Malta, Colombia and several other places. Malta was the starting point and ending point of his fascinating artistic career besides the major successes he procured in between. Maltzeff treasures in Malta stand in the Greek Catholic church of He contributed in making the Valletta church a small spiritual oasis, among an ordinary society.
1902-1906 was the period of his first internship with Dimitri Kavkasskj, where he resided on vicolo dell’accademia delle Belle Arti 58 until he attended a private school on the island of Vasilijevsky, called the “Studio of painting of the Academy Kavkasky” house of Baron Devis.
And in 1908, he was accepted as a student at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Russia. At this point successes rushed in from all places. There was no way he could turn back now. Many paintings were presented rewards including; “Peter the Great at Astrakhan in 1711” this work won him second prize at the annual exhibition. In the following year he won a second prize for “The Tartar Yoke in the 13th Century Russia”.
In 1910, he was awarded 1st prize at the academy at the expo of historical composition with a painting entitled “The Cossacks of the Volga” and in 1913, he won the much coveted “Prix de Rome” with the painting “The Metropolitan St. Alexius cures the Blindness of the Tartar Princess Taidula.” And was consistent with a trip to Rome with a work contract for four years. This one marked a turning point in his life.
A few years later he managed to transfer to Rome with his young wife Maria Azaroff-whose Euro-Asiatic features were to be an inspiring treasure for many of his works. In Rome he continued with his studies through another four years. During this time period the Bolshevik revolution had broken out in Russia. There was must turmoil that created a barrier holding him in Rome for the rest of his life. While in Italy they visited Venice. A place that caused them to reminisce about its similarities with St. Petersburg. On a trip to Capri, Maltzeff met a fisherman named Squadaro, who sat for generations of artists. He in turn inspired the artist in some way for his 1914 “Prophet of Elijah in the Desert.”
Roman strolls added more inspiration to his pallet, and during his walks around ancients stoned roads, he managed to reel in inspiration that unraveled into one of the most significant works of that entire period. “St. Agnes Appearing to her Parents in a Roman Cemetery” 1915-1916.
After his death the canvas was stolen at some point not precise. But, with faith in his artistry, precious information was documented on this painting by his children;
St. Agnes the young martyr was clothed in a white dress covered by a pink sleeveless cape and held a white lamb in her arms. On a bench nearby, sat her parents, awestruck by the apparition of their little daughter.
Their first residence in Rome was set up on artists lane-the Via Margutta. And shortly afterwards they moved to Via San Nicolo in the area of San Tolentino 7. And in 1915, Maltzeff rented a magnificent studio with an entrance spawn onto the Main Via del Corso in Rome which faced the Pincio gardens. He lived there for seven years and in the course of those years he had his first daughter and his second son.
After the Revolution in Russia, he was striped of his salary given to him by the Czarist government. Luckily in 1915 Queen Helen of Montenegro rescued him by buying a small portrait of his 1st daughter. Members of the Russian Aristocracy outside Russia also helped their fellow countryman. During a period of major poverty, Princess Issupoff organized a sale of Russian artefacts at the church of “Trintià dei Monti” located at the top of the Spanish Steps in Rome. And Maltzeff helped with the administration section of that enterprise.