This joint issue of the Principality of Liechtenstein and Ukraine is dedicated to the painter Eugen Zotow, born in 1881 in Kharkiv (today Ukraine) in the Russian Tsarist Empire as Ivan Grigorievich Myassoyedov. Interestingly, Liechtenstein already issued a joint issue dedicated to this painter in 2013: at that time, however, with Russia.
After learning “painting” from his father, Mjassojedow studied fine arts in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Afterwards he lived with his second “wife” and their daughter in the Ukraine (Poltava) until 1919, when he fled to Germany to escape the civil wars. Many of Ivan Myasoyedov’s works from his time in Russia and the Ukraine are considered lost. For one thing, he himself burned all his early work, and the rest was in museums in the Ukraine and in St. Petersberg. Before the Second World War, there are still about 70 of his sensitive portraits and landscapes painted in Poltava in the museum of Poltava, afterwards the stock had shrunk to 20.
In Germany, he and his small family live mainly in Berlin. Here Ivan Mjassoyedov paints pictures that transfigure the old Russia, but also snapshots of the city of Berlin. Less well known are his small oil paintings in which he captures, for example, the view from his cell in Luckau penitentiary (Brandenburg). Interestingly, however, this stay in prison is not the only period of his life. He is accused of counterfeiting money twice in Berlin (1924 and 1932) and sentenced to prison each time.
In 1938 he then travels with his family to Liechtenstein. There he and his wife are not allowed to work, so he earns their living by “drawing”. He created designs for stamps (shown in this article) and around 58 to 60 portraits of Liechtenstein citizens. His flower paintings are also very well known and popular.
And yet: the cat doesn’t stop mooching. In Liechtenstein in 1947, he again forged money to finance a book, but was arrested and convicted in July 1947. He is subsequently released early from prison on parole in November 1948 and at the same time expelled from the country. He would have admitted that it was a “stupid act”. (The ones in 1924 and 1932 too? Actually, he is a repeat offender….).
But since the family has no money to leave the country, the “convicted criminal” receives commissions from the Liechtenstein government to earn money so that he can emigrate to Argentina. Thus, in 1951, he produced “etchings from the 11 municipalities of the Principality of Liechtenstein.” Finally, in 1953, he emigrated with all his paintings and works still belonging to him to Argentina, where he died in the same year.
The joint issue with Ukraine, released on 6 September, consists of two special stamps: The motif “View of Vaduz Castle” (value CHF 1.40) was selected by Philately Liechtenstein from the collection of the Prof. Eugen Zotow-Ivan Miassojedoff Foundation, Vaduz, while the Ukrainian Post (Ukrposhta) chose a “Self Portrait” (value CHF 2.20) remaining in the Poltava Art Museum.