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A portrait of author Willa Cather by Nicolai Fechin

Nicolai Fechin was classically trained at the Imperial Academy of Art in St. Petersburg, Russia, and known for his famous patrons—including actress Lillian Gish and revolutionaries Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. This portrait of author Willa Cather was likely painted in Fechin's New York studio shortly after he and his family fled the Bolshevik revolution and emigrated to the United States. Cather maintained contact with Fechin after the completion of the portrait, visiting his house in Taos, where he continued to paint and host other artists and literati.

By 1924, Cather had published A Lost Lady, was beginning work on The Professor's House, and had won a Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours.

Nicolai Fechin
Kazan, Russia 1881–Santa Monica, CA 1955
Willa Cather
Oil on canvas, 1923/1924
24 × 30 inches
Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, gift of Dr. Philip L. and Helen Cather Southwick through the University of Nebraska Foundation, U-5053.2000